Streaming giant Netflix has released its first feature film with Ukrainian dubbing.
Called “Outside the Wire”, it is the first feature-length motion picture that has premiered on Netflix with an audio track in Ukrainian.
Although many films on the platform have Ukrainian subtitles, there have been only three animated shows, two animated films and one documentary with Ukrainian audio before “Outside the Wire” appeared on Netflix on Jan. 15.
The action thriller is set in 2036 in a Ukraine torn by civil war. The main characters go to Kyiv to find a nuclear weapon produced by the Soviet Union and stop a global catastrophe. None of the scenes for the film were shot in Ukraine.
Netflix offers nearly 200 feature films and its most-viewed series in Ukraine is in Russian. About 36% of Ukrainians speak mostly Russian at home, according to a 2020 survey by pollster Razumkov.
The dubbing for “Outside the Wire” was provided by Ukrainian film studio Postmodern Postproduction, which partnered with Netflix in September 2020. The studio is known for helping U.S. television network HBO shoot acclaimed miniseries “Chernobyl”.
Postmodern Production declined to comment on the news and provide more details about the cooperation — the agreement with Netflix forbids them to talk to journalists. “Maybe we will be able to say more in the nearest future,” the studio’s press office told the Kyiv Post.
Despite having low ratings on websites like IMDB (5.4 out of 10), the film is currently No. 1 trending on Netflix in Ukraine.
Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko is sure Netflix will have more Ukrainian-language films and will shoot more films about Ukraine in the country.
“Last year Postmodern Postproduction and Tak Treba Production partnered with Netflix, and now we see first results of their collaboration,” Tkachenko said on Telegram on Jan. 15. “I am sure that the partnership will result in more cooperation.”
Reportedly, Netflix is preparing to roll out a Ukrainian version of its streaming platform.
When Netflix started operation in Ukraine in 2016, there weren’t even any films with Ukrainian subtitles. Gradually, the company started adding the subs.
Ukrainian Viktor Bezvidkhodko tried to draw the company’s attention to the importance of having Ukrainian subtitles in 2017, when he published an appeal on petition website Change.org. It collected just 2,000 signatures and was closed.
Bezvidkhodko then restarted the petition in June 2020, which got more traction — nearly 100,000 people signed it.
“Ukrainian subtitles should be added to all, or at least to the majority of the content on Netflix, because, in Ukraine, same as in other countries, there are people with hearing disabilities” and because Netflix can attract more Ukrainian viewers, Bezvidkhodko said in the petition.
The first feature-length cartoon released on Netflix with Ukrainian dubbing was “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.” It was dubbed by the LeDoyen studio for B&H Film Distribution Company, but Netflix later bought the rights. The Ukrainian audio appeared in November 2020.
In 2015, Netflix released “Winter on fire: Ukraine’s fight for freedom,” a documentary in Ukrainian that reflects on the events of EuroMaidan Revolution in 2014. It was produced in part by Netflix, Ukraine, the U.S. and the U.K.
Tkachenko announced in summer 2020 that Netflix will shoot its first movie in Kyiv, the action-comedy “The Last Mercenary,” starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, the Belgian-born actor and bodybuilder.
“Now Ukrainians have more reasons to subscribe to Netflix,” Tkachenko said back then.
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