After 12 years of declining to get specific about numbers, Netflix is finally giving the public a clue. The streaming behemoth wants you to know its new comedy caper “Murder Mystery” is a big hit.
Netflix’s de facto PR Twitter account, @NetflixisaJoke, released a “ADAM SANDLER AND JENNIFER ANISTON BREAKING NEWS ALERT” Tuesday night.
The tweet hyped a claim that “30,869,863 accounts watched ‘Murder Mystery’ in its first 3 days — the biggest opening weekend ever for a Netflix Film. 13,374,914 accounts in the US and Canada, and 17,494,949 more worldwide.”
Of course, these numbers are impossible to verify, as Netflix doesn’t operate under the traditional Nielsen rating system.
Dubious film historian Peter Labuza, a doctoral candidate in cinema and media studies at the University of Southern California, was quick to crunch the numbers.
“Using the MPAA estimate of a $9 ticket, Netflix is claiming a $120 million domestic opening weekend, theoretically the third biggest opening of the year behind the two Marvel movies,” Labuza tweeted. “HBO claimed 19.3 million viewers for the ‘Game of Thrones’ finale … I have a hard time believing that a Sandler film which only a handful of people I know watched was more popular than ‘Game of Thrones.’”
So, after historically keeping its viewership data shrouded in secrecy, why is Netflix suddenly spilling? Some social media pundits are saying it’s feeling the pressure from new streaming services backed by Disney and Apple.
Alex Weprin of The Hollywood Reporter weighed in with this hot take: “Netflix has long been loath to talk numbers, but it wants big stars to work with them, and big stars want to be in stuff people see. Hence: talking numbers, ambiguous as they may be.”
The big reveal is too little, too late for some fans who still feel burned by Netflix’s cancellation of some of their favorite shows.
“Great, can y’all release this type of information for all of your OG programming?” @CayceOnTheGo tweeted. “what is considered successful?? How does it factor into renewal/cancellations? Just general transparency would be appreciated thanks!”
While the purported ratings record for “Murder Mystery” is hard to prove, one thing is certain: The slapstick romp about a suburban cop and his hairdresser wife getting blamed for an international murder only has a 45 percent critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie’s “audience score” is still listed as “not yet available.”
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