4 Blocks: dubbing 3 seasons of the gangster drama


About the client

Home to family favourites such as Cartoon Network, TNT Comedy, TNT Film and Boomerang, WarnerMedia’s German headquarter is located in Munich. As well as producing original content, the company broadcasts popular blockbuster movies and TV classics across Germany, Austria and Switzerland, including Friends, Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. In 2018, VSI began dubbing and subtitling the first season of WarnerMedia’s original, German drama series, 4 Blocks, into US English. We completed the second and third season in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The project

Dubbing, Forced Narratives, Subtitling and SDH Creation

US English and German

After Season 1 aired in 2017, 4 Blocks took audiences by storm. Its cast and crew picked up Best Leading Actor, Best Director, Best Score and Best Producer at the 2017 German Television Academy Awards. A year later, Season 2 was hailed the Best Drama Series and also received critical acclaim by the “German TV Oscars”, the Grimme Awards. Further nominations and awards followed for Season 3 in 2019 and 2020.

Currently in its third season, 4 Blocks is a drama following the life of Ali "Toni” Hamady, the leader of a Lebanese crime family and drug cartel in Neukölln, Berlin. Praised for its authentic “street” language, adding an edge and credibility to its storylines, the creators of 4 Blocks sought realism in their work, teaming up with local actors and incorporating their ideas into the production.

Our approach

Based on the client’s vision and direction, VSI Berlin was tasked with producing a US English dub that was gritty and real, evoking the energy, diversity and flavour of Neukölln’s neighbourhoods and the personalities inhabiting its streets. Although we’ve partnered with WarnerMedia on localisation projects for the past eight years, this was their first American English dubbing project with us.

Knowing that our LA team was more than equipped to create another binge-worthy US English dub, we combined our resources in Berlin and LA to find the perfect cast. We selected actors that we felt could hold their own with the original German cast, ensuring that the English dub would be believable and appealing to both our German client and American viewers. Given the show’s focus on a Lebanese crime family, we also had the task of casting Arabic-speaking actors to bring the characters to life in the dubbed version.

The project management and subtitling process was handled by our team in Berlin. This demonstrated our signature approach of a local touch with a global perspective, as we worked with the client in their native language and coordinated the project from a local time zone. While the German dialogue was being dubbed into English in LA, we created the US English subtitles in Berlin. We worked with WarnerMedia to decide on the best approach for the additional source languages (Arabic, Turkish, Russian and Chechen). These were translated into English as forced narratives, enabling a seamless transition between the dubbed audio and FNs. We also provided German subtitles and forced narratives, allowing German-speaking audiences to enjoy the new English dub.


Through a combination of our LA office’s creativity and inspiring can-do attitude, in addition to VSI Berlin’s drive for innovation and sense of Gründlichkeit (being thorough and meticulous), we developed an English dub that lives up to the original drama and is compulsive viewing in itself. We recently completed the third season of 4 Blocks, achieving what we set out to do: produce an English dub that honours the multicultural district of Neukölln and is relatable to an American audience.

© 2019 Turner Broadcasting System Europe Limited – a WarnerMedia Company / W & B Television GmbH & Co. / Images: Julian Baumann