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It has been a great year for buzzy Netflix movies -- from the prestige pics Roma and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, to rom-coms like Set It Up and a new action classic like The Night Comes for Us. Netflix is capping off the year in a big way with the sci-fi horror film Bird Box. The famously secretive Netflix has lifted the blindfold to reveal that the Sandra Bullock film has set a new viewing record for the service. Take a look:
In a year full of big and buzzy Netflix movies, it appears that Bird Box tops them all. According to Netflix, over 45 million accounts checked out the Susanne Bier-directed film in just the first seven days. Based on the subscriber numbers Netflix released in the fall, that would mean that around a third of Netflix's 137 million worldwide subscriber base tuned in to watch Sandra Bullock stumble around the woods in a blindfold.
Clearly there was some major interest in this movie among Netflix subscribers and it's kind of easy to see why. Despite lukewarm reviews for the film, Sandra Bullock is a likable movie star and just led Ocean's 8 earlier this past summer. This year also saw the release of the hugely successful A Quiet Place, and Bird Box appeared to be a similar type of film. It might have drawn in audiences looking for another high-concept story with major thrills.
When a big new movie releases theatrically, by weekend's end we have a pretty good idea the amount of people who saw it and how successful it was. In contrast, Netflix doesn't usually release its viewership numbers, leaving everyone to speculate about the success of a show or movie based on buzz and cancellations/renewals.
Netflix only tends to tell people about viewership numbers when something is a success, as is the case here. Nevertheless, this new viewing record is positively huge and made all the more so when comparing it to some of the other movies Netflix has clued us in on.
For example, the holiday movie The Christmas Chronicles was watched 20 million times in its first week, according to Netflix's Ted Sarandos. That isn't even half of what Bird Box is said to have done. Likewise the huge action/sci-fi film Bright starring Will Smith, which released last year in the same time frame as Bird Box, is estimated to have done 11 million views in the first three days.
As is always the case when Netflix talks about viewership numbers, it is worth noting that there are some specifics that we don't know. Over 45 million accounts watched Bird Box, but we don't know if they all watched it all the way through. It is for that and other reasons that that equating Bird Box's streaming views to a box office in the hundreds of millions is folly.
But even if not all of those people watched beginning to end, or would have paid to see it in theaters, the fact that it performed better than any other previous Netflix movie -- and over 45 million accounts tuned in to at least check out Bird Box -- shows that there was genuine interest in the film.