Netflix has made some massive leaps over the years. What started as a DVD mailing service has evolved into a landmark streaming platform, and that shift has seen Netflix producing its own TV and feature content. However, there's yet another leap that Netflix still needs to make with its film content, as new reports have shown that audiences perceive Netflix films as worse than theatrical films.
Your mileage will obviously vary in a situation such as this, but new data revealed by Barclays (gained by researching IMDb audience scores) shows that audiences generally tend to view Netflix properties as "meaningfully worse" than theatrically-released films from traditional studios like Disney, Fox, or Warner Bros. In fact, standing alongside its traditional competitors, only Paramount films averaged worse IMDb ratings than the streaming platform. Even with Netflix's reportedly strong viewership for its original movies, in terms of quality, audience opinion remains low.
This revelation from Business Insider seems particularly worth noting because it comes on the heels of the debut of Bright last year, which drew headlines for the perceived rift between fans and critics. Behind the scenes, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings noted that Bright's success with audiences on Rotten Tomatoes (despite its poor performance with critics), suggested that critics were out of touch with the opinions of the masses. That said, this report does appear to indicate that audiences generally don't view Netflix's original films in the same way that they perceive theatrically-released films.
That's not to say that Netflix hasn't had its own share of popular film offerings. Films like Mudbound, Gerald's Game and Beasts of No Nation have generally received strong responses from critics and audiences alike. However, the data shows that mainstream audiences still view Netflix films as "worse" than theatrical films.
Of course, it's worth noting that this seems to have become a distinctly film-oriented situation for Netflix. Though many of the streaming platform's original films have not hit with audiences recently, Netflix continues to see massive success with original TV series like Stranger Things, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the various Marvel Cinematic Universe series.
Now we're just left to wonder how Netflix will reconcile the difference and increase public opinion of its film offerings. With Netflix continually trying new methods to improve its stature as a producer of original content (with tactics ranging from acquiring hot pieces of IP to potentially purchasing its own theater chains), it's anyone's guess as to what it will do to continue its ascent.
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