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Netflix’s ‘Cloverfield Paradox’ Pulled in 5 Million Viewers in 7 Days After Surprise Release

Nielsen also releases viewing data for 'Altered Carbon' sci-fi series

Netflix’s pickup of J.J. Abrams’ widely panned sci-fi movie “The Cloverfield Paradox” hasn’t turned out as well as another of the streamer’s big-budget original films, “Bright.”

The movie notched just 2.8 million U.S. viewers in the first three days after its surprise post-Super Bowl release on Feb. 4, according to Nielsen data. But the total audience grew to 5.0 million over a seven-day period, per Nielsen’s estimates.

That’s compared with 11 million U.S. viewers who watched Netflix’s “Bright” during its first three days of release, according to Nielsen (which did not provide seven-day figures for that title). According to Netflix, in the first month after the Dec. 22 release, “Bright” had become one of Netflix’s most-viewed original titles ever.

Netflix guerrilla-marketed the launch of “Cloverfield Paradox” during Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, buying an ad in the NBC telecast announcing that the film would be available to stream following the game. Netflix reportedly paid Paramount Pictures more than $50 million to rights to the film, which previously carried the title “God Particle.”

“Bright,” which stars Will Smith, was backed by a broad marketing campaign while Netflix sprang “Cloverfield” on customers without warning. It also opted to drop the sci-fi flick after the biggest TV event of the year, when Americans were more likely to be calling it a night than settling in to watch a movie.

Per Nielsen, on Sunday, Feb. 4, “The Cloverfield Paradox” drew an estimated total U.S. audience of about 786,000. Netflix typically has released original series and movies on Friday.

That said, the relatively weak response to “Cloverfield Paradox” may have as much to do with the fact that many people thought it was a crummy piece of filmmaking.

The movie been savaged by reviewers, garnering an 18% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes; it has a mediocre 51% audience score. Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman dubbed the picture a “mind-boggling mish-mosh” and “a dystopian galactic muddle that feels like it could have been the most bonkers episode of ‘Deep Space Nine.'” By comparison, “Bright” — which also received poor reviews — has a 27% critics’ score but a much higher 86% audience score.

Nielsen also Thursday released viewership data for Netflix’s “Altered Carbon,” a futuristic cyberpunk series released Feb. 2. According to the media-measurement firm, 3.7 million U.S. Netflix subs watched the first episode in the first three days of release — well below the second season of fan-favorite “Stranger Things,” which saw its premiere episode average 15.8 million viewers from Oct. 27-29. In the first seven days of release, the first episode of “Altered Carbon” — created by Laeta Kalogridis and starring Joel Kinnaman — had been watched by 5.9 million people.

It’s tough to get a read on the relative popularity of content on Netflix, which doesn’t release viewing metrics. Netflix also has routinely challenged the accuracy of third-party attempts to measure its service.

Regarding Nielsen’s methodology, Netflix has pointed out that Nielsen covers only the U.S. and only detects viewership on connected TVs (excluding mobile devices and PCs). Nielsen’s recently launched SVOD Content Ratings offering extrapolates Netflix viewership using audio-recognition technology, by matching what’s on TV with a “fingerprint” of Netflix content.

“The Cloverfield Paradox,” Abrams’ third “Cloverfield” movie, is set in the near future where a group of international astronauts on a space station are working to solve a massive energy crisis on Earth using an experimental particle accelerator. But the team inadvertently opens a portal to another dimension — where they become stranded.

The film is directed by Julius Onah and stars Elizabeth Debicki, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, and Chris O’Dowd.

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