Quick! Name your favorite Netflix original movie? And I don’t mean your “favorite movie Netflix snatched up from a festival” (High Flying Bird, Mudbound). I mean, your favorite movie produced by Netflix. Here, I’ll help. These are the ten most watched Netflix films:
2. Bird Box
3. Spenser Confidential
4. 6 Underground
5. Murder Mystery
6. The Old Guard
7. Enola Holmes
8. Project Power
9. Army of the Dead
There are some OK titles on that list, but how many of those have you watched twice? Or even contemplated watching again? Or even remembered a month after watching it? I don’t know what it is about Netflix films — maybe it’s because they are “free” (with our increasingly expensive subscriptions) — but they all feel vaguely disposable, like movies we watch because they are there. That even holds true for some of their Oscar contenders, like The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Mank, although The Irishman and Marriage Story had some more heft (and I’m not erasing Roma, either).
Netflix, at least, is admitting that they haven’t really cracked the nut on their original films. “We have to be more consistent at making these movies more culturally relevant and putting them in the zeitgeist,” Netflix’s head of original films Scott Stuber told Variety. “We know the audience is there for these movies, but I want people to feel that impact in their conversations with friends and colleagues where they’re saying did you hear about this movie Old Guard? We’ve done it, but we haven’t done it consistently.”
That’s pretty brave of Stuber to say since he’s basically conceding that he’s not very good at his job. However, there is one particular miss that still smarts, which is when they ponied up $150 million for 6 Underground, “a 140-minute exercise in what happens when Netflix gives Michael Bay an astonishing amount of money to remind us that this man never grew out of masturbating to hotties in American flag bikinis.” Despite my fondness for Ryan Reynolds, I still haven’t seen it because Roxana called it “repellent trash,” and if I wanted to watch trash, I’d just watch Manifest again.
Stuber himself seems to recognize that the film stunk up the joint, too. “We didn’t feel like we got there on that one creatively,” Stuber said. “It was a nice hit, but at the end of the day, we didn’t feel like we nailed the mark to justify coming back again. There just wasn’t that deep love for those characters or that world.”
That’s a very charitable way of calling it “trash,” not that it’s deterred Stuber from throwing a lot of cash at the problem. Netflix currently has The Gray Man with Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling in the works, and it costs $200 million. But at least it has proven directors behind it in the Russo Brothers, who gave us several The Avengers films and … the embarrassing Apple TV+ misfire, Cherry.
Methinks that Netflix should stick to what they do best (and what is best suited to the format): Romcoms.
Header Image Source: Netflix