The twisty, noir-tinged Danish melodrama Loving Adults continued its surprising three-week run in Netflix’s Top 10s this week, finishing in second place for Non-English language films after finishing first in the same category the previous two weeks.
To learn more about this sleeper hit, the first feature film from Denmark that Netflix has fully financed, Christopher Meir – an Assistant Professor in Communication at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid who is currently working on a project about Netflix original movies – sat down with the film’s producer Marcella Dichmann and talked to her about how she came to make the film with Netflix, her surprise at its global success, and the possibilities for building on its popularity.
Christopher Meir: Firstly, tell me about yourself. You have been working in what seems to be youth-oriented films in Denmark which are not readily available in the English-speaking world, so can you tell me about your trajectory of a producer and how you came about producing Loving Adults for Netflix?
Marcella Dichmann: I started at SF Studios three years ago just before the pandemic. I’ve always been most interested in doing feature films, especially for large audiences.
We started shooting for Loving Adults last year in May 2021 after the greenlight from Netflix. The greenlighting process went fairly quickly, and it was a big help for them that Loving Adults is based on a novel by Anna Ekberg and had already been sold to 13 countries. I just pitched it from a short synopsis to Lina Brouneus a couple of years ago and she was interested straight away. She and her team read the first draft of the script and then we had a deal.
CM: For those who haven’t seen the film, how would you describe Loving Adults? When we think of Scandinavian cinema things like Nordic noir and crime fiction come to mind, and this film seems to fit alongside those works, but it is also somewhat different than that tradition. How do you see it in creative terms and how did you see it when you were developing it?
MD: What inspired me was the vibe of Gone Girl and a bit of The Undoing, which I really love watching for all the twists and turns. It’s not a straight line dramatically and you get to be surprised.
CM: How was it working with the film’s directors, writers and stars?
MD: It was amazing because this was my first film with [director] Barbara Topsøe-Rothenborg and we ended up shooting her next project together, so that means things have gone well, since we’re shooting one year after the first one. We are very much alike Barbara and I, with our shared love for thrillers, twists-and-turns and not being too predictable.
The film’s stars, Dar [Salim], Sonja [Richter] and Sus [Wilkins] and everybody have been fantastic, so dedicated. All good vibes every day while shooting so it’s just been a very big success for us to do this one together.
CM: What brought you to work with Barbara Topsøe-Rothenborg?
MD: We had crossed paths many times and always just thought we should do something at one point, and then Netflix were like “we should do Loving Adults, so who’s the director?” and the first named that popped up was Barbara.
I also thought it’d be so cool to have a female director. First of all, of course, she’s amazing and very talented, but I also think it was important gender-wise. I had men reading the script and they were a bit more like “she couldn’t and can’t do that,” as they’re a bit more afraid to show the dark side of a female lead character, perhaps because they can’t quite comprehend it, while Barbara was like “hell yeah, I’d do the same thing.” As a woman, she knows that this dark side undeniably exists.
CM: Did Netflix have a lot of input or notes on the film in development?
MD: I must say, I think that’s why I love to work with Netflix. The trust and the faith that Netflix has shown us all the way has been amazing. They literally just read the first draft of the script and rewarded us with trust.
The thing is once we were done shooting, they have had two or three notes and wasn’t even notes, it was more suggestions. “How do you think about this or this? and of course, we know it’s your film so these are just overall notes”. So, there’s been so much respect in working with Netflix. Respect for the director, the cast and me as the producer.
I have the feeling that Netflix is very fond of working closely with producers. So it’s very natural to contact Netflix when I have a suitable project for them. Sometimes the right thing is for the cinema and sometimes the right thing is for Netflix.
CM: What do you think about the film’s release on Netflix? It has ranked pretty highly on the company’s metrics.
MD: We have been in the top 10s for 91 countries out of 93, and we were number 1 in 10 countries. Number 1 in Denmark and that’s both in English and non-English films. We were also number 1 globally in non-English films [for two weeks] and number 4 in the world overall for ALL films on Netflix in the first week the film was on release.
Netflix is super happy and so are we. I’m very proud.
Danish films are very popular in Brazil and we’re number 1 in Brazil. We are getting lots of attention from all over the world.
CM: Do you think this is going to open up opportunities for Danish films? You have such a tradition in Denmark of exporting films from the likes of Lars von Trier or Thomas Vinterberg, but not this kind of film precisely. Do you have any thoughts on how this is kind of a pioneering success in some way.
MD: I think that it is great that people from all over the world see Danish films. This is one of the ways to find audiences and for me as a producer, I want to meet and make my audience as wide as possible and this was a fantastic way to do it and all at once.
To me, this film is not a typical Danish film, so I didn’t believe the cinema to be the best place or platform for a first release for this particular film. I saw it as such a global project with so much potential. Of course, it could also work in the cinema, but I thought it was more important with this genre and this title to test if it could succeed globally.
I want to make the film for the audience, and we have seen how people turn on Loving Adults and they watch it to the end. For me, that’s a sign that people are really loving whatt they’re seeing, and that is why I produce films.
CM: You said something really interesting there that you knew they were finishing the film? Is this a data point you’re getting from Netflix that beyond the viewing hours, the film is getting a high completion rate too?
CM: Given the film’s success and the fact that, as you say, Netflix is very happy with it, are you working on a follow-up or sequel?
MD: Well, we have something in mind, but what kind of story it’ll be, I can’t tell you right now.
CM: Are you and your team also thinking about the possibility of remaking the film outside of Denmark?
MD: Maybe. Let’s just say I’m getting emails from all over the world from people who see potential.
Loving Adults can be seen in all Netflix territories around the world. Netflix announced in 2021 that Marcella Dichmann is producing the feature film Ehrengard for the service. That film is expected to be released in 2023.