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It's Not TV, It's Netflix; Fincher/Spacey House of Cards Set for Late 2012

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The next HBO?

It’s official: Netflix is getting into the business of producing first-run series. House of Cards, a remark of a British political thriller, from David Fincher and Kevin Spacey will debut in late 2012 on the—movie club? channel? things-you-watch-on-a-screen service?

The timing, of course, will coincide with a U.S. Presidential election, but the bigger news that Netflix, not a TV channel, is competing with the likes of HBO (which it outbid), and much like HBO did once, moving from becoming solely a distribution arm for other people’s content.

You can read my earlier thoughts on the possible implications for how TV is made here; excerpts from the announcement follow:

David Fincher’s “House of Cards” Starring Kevin Spacey to Be Streamed Instantly in North America Exclusively from Netflix
New television series from Media Rights Capital brings the highly anticipated adaptation of the award-winning BBC political thriller to Netflix members in late 2012

Beverly Hills, CA (March 18, 2011) – “House of Cards,” the much-anticipated television series and political thriller from Executive Producer David Fincher and starring two time Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey, will debut exclusively in the United States and Canada from Netflix, the world’s leading Internet subscription service for enjoying movies and TV shows.

Netflix has committed to a minimum of 26 episodes of the Media Rights Capital drama, which is expected to be available to the more than 20 million Netflix members, beginning in late 2012. Fincher, the Oscar-nominated director of The Social Network and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, will direct the pilot written by Beau Willimon (Farragut North and film adaptation, The Ides of March). A satirical tale of power, corruption and lies, “House of Cards” is based on the book and acclaimed BBC mini-series of the same name.

“The gripping, serialized one hour drama has become a very important part of the Netflix experience,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “David Fincher’s unique vision, the indelible performances of Kevin Spacey and the original version of “House of Cards,” all have a big following among our members, giving the series a very good chance of becoming a fan favorite. We are thrilled to be working with this amazing team.”

Originally written as a novel by former U.K. Conservative Party Chief of Staff Michael Dobbs, “House of Cards” explores the ruthless underside of British politics at the end of the Thatcher era. Reset against the backdrop of modern-day U.S. electoral politics, the new one-hour drama follows an ambitious politician (Spacey) with his eye on the top job.

Scripts for 13 episodes will be delivered before production on the “House of Cards” pilot begins in the spring of 2012. Production on subsequent episodes of “House of Cards” will commence several months later, allowing producers time to carefully develop the series.