×
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

  • Singapore Actor Aloysius Pang, 28, Dies

    Singaporean Actor Aloysius Pang, 28, Dies While on Military Service

    Singaporean actor Aloysius Pang died Wednesday of injuries sustained while on military training in New Zealand. He was 28. Pang was best known for his appearance in movies “Young & Fabulous” and “Timeless Love.” He also had a string of credits in Singapore TV series. Pang was involved in an accident last week while repairing [...]

  • Alibaba Lends $100 Million to Huayi

    Alibaba Lends $100 Million to Huayi Bros. in Film Investment Expansion

    Alibaba Pictures Group, the film business arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has struck a strategic cooperation deal with leading film studio Huayi Bros. The deal includes a $103 million (RMB700 million) loan to Huayi. Alibaba Pictures said the agreement was part of its recently announced strategy to be involved in major movies aimed for [...]

  • Netflix Buys Taiwan Black Comedy 'Dear

    Netflix Buys Taiwan Black Comedy 'Dear Ex'

    Netflix has added to its roster of Mandarin-language content with the acquisition of rights to Taiwanese dark comedy “Dear Ex.” The award-winning film will play out from Feb. 1. The story involves a recently bereaved widow and a gay man fighting over a dead man’s inheritance, with the woman’s teenage son caught in the middle. [...]

  • Audrey Wells

    Film News Roundup: Audrey Wells Scholarships Launched by UCLA, China's Pearl Studio

    In today’s film news roundup, Pearl Studio and UCLA start a “Say Yes!” scholarship in memory of Audrey Well; Gina Lollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale are honored; and the “General Magic” documentary gets bought. SCHOLARSHIPS UNVEILED China’s Pearl Studio has made a gift of $100,000 for endowed scholarships to the UCLA School of Theater, Film and [...]

  • Honey Boy Knock Down the House

    Sundance Hot Titles List: 13 Buzzy Films That Have Buyers Talking

    There’s a good reason that much of Hollywood braves the thin mountain air each year to make the trek to the Sundance Film Festival, and it’s not to check out the nearby ski slopes. The annual launch of the indie film gathering brings with it the possibility of discovering the next big thing in moviemaking. [...]

  • (L to R) VIGGO MORTENSEN and

    Will Oscar Nominations Give This Year's Contenders a Box Office Boost?

    With nominees like “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “A Star Is Born,” the 2018 class of movies proved the Oscars don’t need a popular films category to recognize movies that also made bank in theaters. But now that the academy has selected this year’s crop of awards hopefuls, is there any green left to squeeze [...]

  • A24 Buys Sequel to Tilda Swinton's

    Sundance: A24 Buys Sequel to Tilda Swinton's Romance-Drama 'The Souvenir'

    A24 has bought the North American rights to Tilda Swinton’s romance-drama “The Souvenir – Part 2,” closing the deal on the eve of the Sundance Film Festival. “The Souvenir” is set to make its world premiere at Sundance on Jan. 27, followed by playing in the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival in February. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content