×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Bird Box’ Viewed by 45 Million Netflix Members in First Week, Company Says

Netflix’s frightening thriller “Bird Box” scored the biggest seven-day viewership of all the streamer’s original movie releases to date — with just over 45 million member accounts globally having watched the movie in the first week, the company claimed Friday.

The movie bowed Dec. 21 worldwide on Netflix, and became an instant — if traumatizing — Christmas Day family-viewing experience for some. The Sandra Bullock-starrer also has spawned a raft of internet memes since its release.

In “Bird Box,” Bullock is a single mom trying to save her kid’s lives after mysterious forces invade Earth and causes people to kill themselves. Survivors navigating the post-apocalyptic world must wear blindfolds or be exposed to supernatural entities that embody their deepest fears.

“Took off my blindfold this morning to discover that 45,037,125 Netflix accounts have already watched Bird Box — best first 7 days ever for a Netflix film!” the Netflix Film account on Twitter boasted Friday.

But how meaningful is this stat? Netflix famously doesn’t release viewing data in any regular way, and the 45 million number cannot be independently verified. Also unclear is Netflix’s definition of what it means for an account to have “watched” a title (in other words, some may have streamed only a portion of the movie). [UPDATE, 3:15 p.m. PT: Asked for clarification, a Netflix rep declined to elaborate on what “watched” means in this context.] While third-party measurement firms including Nielsen attempt to estimate audience metrics for Netflix content, they’re limited in scope; for example, Nielsen’s SVOD Content Ratings cover only the U.S. and exclude viewing on mobile and PCs.

[UPDATE #2, Dec. 29, 7:30 p.m. PT: A Netflix spokeswoman said the 45 million accounts it tallied as having watched “Bird Box” were counted only after a view surpassed 70% of the total running time including credits. In other words, those accounts had viewed at least 87 minutes of the 2 hour, 4 minute movie. Each Netflix account may have included multiple views (and viewers) of “Bird Box” but were counted only once toward to the 45 million total. According to the rep, this info applies to “Bird Box” specifically and “should not be taken as a metric for all Netflix content.”]

If 45 million Netflix member accounts did indeed watch “Bird Box” in its first week on the service, that would represent about one-third of the company’s 137.1 million total reported streaming subscribers as of the end of the third quarter of 2018.

At an investment conference earlier this month, chief content officer Ted Sarandos — in trying to back up his point that Netflix’s original movies are gaining ground — claimed that “The Christmas Chronicles” starring Kurt Russell was viewed by Netflix members 20 million times in its first seven days.

Netflix has made some fishy claims in the past regarding the performance of its originals. For example, Sarandos suggested that if “The Christmas Chronicles” had been a theatrical release, 20 million views would make it tantamount to a $200 million first-week movie opening. But that’s a specious comparison: Netflix subscribers pay a flat monthly fee for the entire service — they aren’t specifically buying tickets to see individual movies.

“Bird Box” is directed by Susanne Bier, based on Josh Malerman’s 2014 novel of the same name. The cast also includes Trevante Rhodes (“Moonlight”) and Bullock’s “Ocean’s 8” co-star Sarah Paulson, along with John Malkovich, Jacki Weaver, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howery, BD Wong, Machine Gun Kelly and Tom Hollander.

Prior to its streaming debut, Netflix gave “Bird Box” a one-week theatrical run starting Dec. 13 in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and London, followed by a wider release. The company also has given limited theatrical releases to other awards contenders, including Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” and the Coen brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.”

“Bird Box” has garnered tepid reviews, with a 66% favorable critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes (and a 74% audience approval rating). Variety‘s Peter Debruge, in his review, criticized “the film’s recurring strategy of not showing audiences what they most expect to see,” saying that it’s “a monster movie without a monster.”

More Film

  • For web story

    Toronto: Sony Pictures Classics Buys 'The Burnt Orange Heresy' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sony Pictures Classics has nabbed the rights to “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” Variety has learned. The indie label plans to release the film in 2020. The Italian-American thriller was directed by Giuseppe Capotondi and stars Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Mick Jagger, and Donald Sutherland. Scott Smith adapted Charles Willeford’s novel of the same name, transporting [...]

  • Thomasin McKenzie and Essie Davis

    Thomasin McKenzie and Essie Davis to Star in 'Justice of Bunny King'

    Essie Davis, star of “The Babadook” and autumn festival hit “Babyteeth,” and “Jojo Rabbit” co-star Thomasin McKenzie will headline upcoming drama “The Justice of Bunny King.” The film, now shooting in New Zealand, is a triumph over adversity tale about women fighting their way back from the bottom of society. It is the debut feature [...]

  • Calm With Horses

    Nick Rowland Talks About Toronto Debut Film 'Calm With Horses'

    “Calm with Horses,” which made its world premiere in Toronto’s TIFF in the Discovery section, is the feature directorial debut of Nick Rowland (Amazon series “Ripper Street”), and stars Barry Keoghan (Marvel’s upcoming “The Eternals,” “Dunkirk”), Cosmo Jarvis (“Annihilation”), and Niamh Algar (BBC’s “The Virtues”). The script, which was adapted from Colin Barrett’s short story [...]

  • Colin Trevorrow Directs Jurassic World Short

    Colin Trevorrow Returns to Jurassic World in Short Film 'Battle at Big Rock'

    Dinosaurs are roaming the Earth again. In a new short from “Jurassic World” director Colin Trevorrow, rogue beasts wreak havoc on a family camping trip. The eight-and-a-half minute film, titled “Battle at Big Rock,” takes place a year after the events of “Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom.” The 2018 blockbuster — starring Chris Pratt and Bryce [...]

  • Bert Kreischer The Machine

    Legendary Lands Rights to Bert Kreischer’s Viral Story 'The Machine' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Legendary has optioned the rights to develop comedian Bert Kreischer’s story “The Machine” into a feature film following its viral success, sources tell Variety. The video has generated more than 85 million views on Facebook and YouTube since hitting the social media channels in December 2016 and Legendary moved aggressively to land the rights. Kreischer [...]

  • Margot Robbie poses at the launch

    Margot Robbie in Talks to Executive Produce, Star in Comedy 'Fools Day'

    Margot Robbie is in negotiations to executive produce and star as a fourth-grade teacher in New Line’s comedy “Fools Day.” New Line has acquired Cody Blue Snider’s short film of the same name to adapt into the feature project. Snider, who co-wrote and directed the short, will direct the full-length feature from a script he [...]

  • M Night Shyamalan'Glass' film premiere, Arrivals,

    M. Night Shyamalan Sets Two New Films at Universal

    M. Night Shyamalan will write and direct two new movies at Universal Pictures, the studio announced Monday. The currently untitled thrillers will be released in theaters on Feb. 26, 2021 and Feb. 17, 2023, respectively. “M. Night Shyamalan continues to create exciting, highly original stories that keep global audiences on the edge of their seats,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content