How can you tell if a Netflix movie is a hit? The streaming service keeps its viewing data private, so we can’t track a movie like Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom or Mank the way that we’d follow the progress of a movie that has a traditional movie-theater opening. Box office figures don’t exist for Netflix. But every once in a while, data comes out on a title that suggests its connecting with a larger audience, and that seems to be the case with George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, The Midnight Sky.
Netflix has awards aspirations for George Clooney’s latest film, in which he also stars as a survivor of an undisclosed apocalyptic event who has made it his mission to warn a team of returning astronauts that our planet is no longer habitable. Deadline recently did some digging into the performance stats of a slew of titles that Netflix dropped in December, hoping to gain some awards traction, and found out that Clooney’s The Midnight Sky was viewed by an estimated 72 million homes in its first four weeks, a number that would be good enough for becoming one of the streamer’s “biggest-ever films,” according to Deadline.
Additionally, it’s sounding like The Midnight Sky is finding a global audience. Deadline’s reporting states that the movie reached the No. 1 slot on Netflix in 77 different countries, and cracked the top 10 ranking in 93 countries, showing that the combination of sci-fi thriller and end-of-the-world extinction drama works on audiences from diverse backgrounds.
The movie certainly has star power. George Clooney casts himself in the lead role of the lone survivor who ends up, through unusual circumstances, having to care for a little girl (played by expressive newcomer Caoilinn Springall). But the astronauts on the ship consist of heavy-hitter actors such as Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler, Demain Bichir and Tiffany Boone. In a funny twist, though, Clooney ended up telling CinemaBlend that it was Springall who made her A-list cast members look bad. Here’s why:
It’s easy to understand why a title like The Midnight Sky is performing well on Netflix. The majority of us remain stuck at home during the most recent holiday season, and often were looking for a distraction from our day to day. The movie has a little bit of something for every type of audience, and so I could see people checking it out and sticking with it. The Netflix model will be interesting to track in 2021 as movies try to find their way back to theaters, but other streaming services like HBO Max also bring high-powered titles such as Wonder Woman 1984 to homes. It’s a brave new world. How are you finding your way through it?
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.