Netflix's latest Adam Sandler offering Murder Mystery landed last Friday and went on to have a huge 'opening weekend'.
The streaming giant reported on Tuesday (June 18) that the comedy had been watched by a record-breaking 30,869,863 accounts in its first three days, marking the biggest opening for any Netflix Original movie ever.
But the figures were met with scepticism by some online, questioning whether the film really was watched by that many people.
After all, it's pretty rubbish, right? And do that many people *really* want to see a new Sandler movie? Surely what really happened was a bunch of them started it and stopped after a few minutes, right?
How many switched off after 15 mins ? 🙋♂️- GaryLDN (@GaryLDN) June 18, 2019
Does the auto play when you scroll over the title count as a view or something?- lil pocky (@OhItsTeddy) June 19, 2019
Too bad it SUCKED so bad that I turned it off and didn’t waste anymore of my life watching it. Does Netflix report on that? I definitely took the time to give it a 👎 too.- Terry Hawkins (@Guspuppy616) June 18, 2019
Sorry to say, though, that's not what happened. We know that Netflix in the past has been pretty guarded about its viewing figures, but it's been changing its approach in recent months.
Sure, they still largely focus on the movies that did well and their weekly charts don't come with actual figures, yet Netflix is opening up about what people really watch. And, yes, one of them in the past week has been Murder Mystery.
Back when Netflix revealed that Bird Box had been watched by 45 million accounts in its first seven days, the company outlined their approach to tallying up those figures. Those figures mean that each account had watched at least 70% of Murder Mystery, with only one viewing per account counted.
They don't seem to have changed this system for their weekly ratings charts, so even though they haven't said the same for Murder Mystery, we have to assume it's exactly the same system.
A quick FYI: to compile these lists we look at the most-watched individual season of a show, film or special (regardless of when it launched). “Watched” means members finished at least 70% of one episode.- Netflix UK & Ireland (@NetflixUK) May 9, 2019
And why wouldn't 30.9 million accounts watch Murder Mystery? Take your Sandler cynicism out of it and what you have is a new movie available to watch over the weekend, featuring two recognisable stars in Sandler and Jennifer Aniston.
We doubt anyone would have expected great things, but as we said in our review, Murder Mystery promises to be an easy watch that's perfectly diverting.
Given its status as the latest Netflix Original offering, it would have been heavily promoted on most accounts, especially if they've watched previous Sandler movies made for Netflix. Anyone seeing it on their homepage might have just thought, 'Ah, why not?', given the film's fun premise (Agatha Christie, but funny) and breezy 97-minute runtime.
Some have called the viewing figure into question because of how it relates to if Murder Mystery had been released at the box office.
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.- Peter Labuza (@labuzamovies) June 18, 2019
HBO claimed 19.3 million viewers for the Game of Thrones finale. https://t.co/i2m19xubRz
But that's missing the point.
Of *course* the movie wouldn't have got close to that number if it had received a traditional cinema release. Yet you don't approach a cinema visit in the same way as you do a Netflix watch, so it's no surprise more people would take a chance on Netflix.
Netflix has around 150 million subscribers worldwide, so the fact that a fifth of them would watch a brand-new movie on its 'opening weekend' isn't too unbelievable. Even if it is with a star that you might personally find unwatchable.
Earlier this year, Netflix's chief financial officer Spencer Neumann explained that it started revealing its figures "to give a sense of scale and scope", adding: "It's important for artists – and audiences – to understand the reach of their work."
Why wouldn't the streaming giant want to show off just how many people watch a certain movie? It can only benefit them in the long run as they attempt to draw even bigger names to their original content.
Sandler was one of the early adopters to Netflix's Original Movie content and now it seems that both him and Netflix knew what they were doing. He was always a big box office draw after all; it's just that now, he's doing it on a different platform.
Murder Mystery is available to watch now on Netflix.
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