That’s a lot of viewing hours.
Netflix keeps its ratings fairly confidential, but with 222 million subscribers worldwide and a culture dedicated to marathon binging sessions, it’s safe to say they’re putting up some pretty staggering numbers.
Netflix is both a streaming service and a movie studio; its original content ranges from Oscar-nominated to critically panned. But while accolades are nice, Netflix’s movies exist for one reason and one reason only: to rack up those viewing hours. Netflix has compiled a list of their top ten most popular English-language films based solely on hours viewed in their first 28 days of release.
Mark Wahlberg plays Spenser, an ex-cop just out of prison who should quickly flee Boston but stays to help his old boxing coach (Alan Arkin) with his promising new trainee. Winston Duke plays the tough MMA fighter, and he comes in handy when Spenser’s former associates turn up murdered, and Spenser unwisely decides to investigate.
Rotten Tomatoes awarded Spenser Confidential a mere 37%, and audiences didn’t rate it much higher, but with Wahlberg starring, they were clearly willing to give it a chance. Most found it derivative and boring. Some critics even wondered whether it was written entirely by Netflix’s charmless algorithm. Spenser Confidential would likely have flopped big-time at the box office, but since it was “free” to watch with a paid Netflix subscription, many people did.
Ryan Reynolds plays a billionaire philanthropist who fakes his own death to form a vigilante squad. He recruits five other specialists to join his gang of ghosts: Two (Melanie Laurent) is a super spy, Three (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) a hitman, Four (Ben Hardy) a parkour pro and thief, Five (Adria Arjona) a doctor, and Six (Dave Franco), a driver.
Director Michael Bay wrangles Netflix’s second-highest budget (behind Scorsese’s The Irishman) of $150 million, most of which is spent blowing up expensive cars. Its promising, high-octane trailer hooked subscribers, resulting in a huge hit in terms of watch hours, but even Reynolds’ charm failed to make up for Bay’s worst instincts, creating yet another tribute to military misogyny. Netflix quietly scrapped plans for a sequel.
In the first film, Elle (Joey King) and best friend Lee (Joel Courtney) had a very specific set of friendship rules which Elle violates passionately in pursuit of her lifelong crush…Lee’s big brother Noah (Jacob Elordi). In the sequel, Noah’s away at college, and Elle forms a new friendship with Marco (Taylor Zakhar Perez), and their chemistry is undeniable.
Though the critics were unimpressed, fans of the franchise enjoyed King’s quirky girl antics in the first and hoped for more. Unfortunately, the dreamy relationship from the original film quickly turned toxic in the second, and the director’s lingering fascination with a teenage girl left some of its audience queasy. Unfortunately, the damage had been done, with enough viewing hours accrued to set a third film in motion.
Robert De Niro plays Frank, a hitman who dedicated his life to loyally serving the Bufalino crime family. As an old man, he reflects on his life in the mob, and the audience watches humanity get leeched from him. Facing his own mortality, this sociopath is alone, and deservedly so. The relative ease with which he takes out supposed friend Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) belies his inability to form an attachment, and as he contemplates his sins, he doesn’t express regret, sorrow, loneliness, or indeed any feeling at all.
This film feels like a culmination of Martin Scorsese’s favorite themes and greatest hits. The mafia is the perfect setting for his elegy; unlike his glamorization of the lifestyle in previous films, The Irishman is mournful and introspective. The stellar cast, including Harvey Keitel, Jesse Plemons, Joe Pesci, and Anna Paquin, all reflect different aspects of Frank’s impoverished soul, and Scorsese’s condemnation of his choices seems absolute and maybe even personal.
Sandra Bullock plays Ruth, a woman newly released from prison after committing a violent crime. She goes home, only to find that home is unwelcoming, unable to forgive her past. With few options, Ruth realizes her only hope for redemption lies with the little sister she left behind.
Critics faulted the contrived plot but praised Bullock’s performance. Audiences clearly responded to her against-type portrayal and enjoyed the equally talented cast, including Vincent D’Onofrio, Viola Davis, and Rob Morgan. The film’s sense of broken justice and sacrifice clearly struck an emotional chord.
The son of an incarcerated Indian drug lord is kidnapped, but his father refuses to pay the ransom. Instead, black-market mercenary Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) is called in to pull off a miraculous extraction. He would have succeeded, too, if not for a last-minute double-cross that throws everything into chaos.
This movie is useless in terms of plotting or characterization. Fans watch for one reason only: the action. First-time director Sam Hargrave first met Chris Hemsworth while performing as Chris Evans’/Captain America’s stunt double. Marvel was so impressed that he became the MCU’s go-to fight choreographer. In Extraction, Hargrave leans heavily on the throttle by filming car chases strapped to the front of cars and immersing audiences with an eleven-and-a-half-minute continuous one-take action sequence. Expect a sequel later this year.
Twelve-year-old Adam Reed is grieving the recent loss of his father when he stumbles upon a bleeding pilot who just happens to be a time-traveling older version of himself. Twelve-year-old Adam takes an instant dislike to Big/Future Adam, played by Ryan Reynolds, but is convinced to help him out when he learns the mission involves going even further back to find their father (Mark Ruffalo) and set things right.
Fans of Reynolds’ unique blend of charm, sarcasm, and muscles will find much to like about The Adam Project, though fans of sci-fi may find it a little wanting. Director Shawn Levy manages to find the film’s heart, hiding amongst as many clever Easter eggs as the viewer cares to hunt. Levy and Reynolds have previously collaborated on Free Guy and will again on the upcoming Deadpool 3.
Five years after the world is invaded by some insidious species that drives people to suicide, Malorie, a mother to two young kids played by Sandra Bullock, has been hiding in a safe house along with a random selection of other survivors. The predators can’t hurt those who don’t see them, so blindness keeps you safe. It’s now time to move on, but a treacherous escape down a river must be undertaken blindfolded, and even the slightest peek could be deadly.
This film delivers genuine thrills and haunting possibilities. Bullock carries the film on her tense shoulders, but a talented ensemble including Sarah Paulson, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Jacki Weaver, Danielle Macdonald, and Lil Rel Howery brings flavorful nuance and new angles of terror to an already heart-stopping film.
Two lowly astronomers, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, discover a comet is hurtling toward Earth, set to extinguish all life when it hits in about six months. When neither the president (Meryl Streep) nor her chief-of-staff son (Jonah Hill) appears to care, they decide to take it to the media themselves. People’s reactions are mixed, with a lot of the rhetoric reminiscent of pandemic paranoia and anti-science discourse.
The Oscar-nominated funnyman, writer-director Adam McKay, may have built his career on raunchy comedy, but he’s taken an incisive turn toward political satire. He elicits interesting performances from an ensemble including Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Rob Morgan, Mark Rylance, Timothée Chalamet, Himesh Patel, and Melanie Linskey. Lifting a disheartening mirror to toxic anti-science culture and impending doom has never been so funny.
FBI Agent John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) is investigating the theft of one of three eggs once given to Cleopatra by Marc Antony. Johnson recovers the missing egg from notorious art thief Booth (Ryan Reynolds), but another thief, Black, disguised as one of the strike team, swaps out the real egg for a fake. Agent Hartley is blamed for the egg’s theft, and he and Booth are imprisoned together. Black (Gal Gadot) asks Booth to help her steal the next two eggs. He declines, but he and Hartley ultimately hatch a plan to steal the second egg from under Black and then try for the third, whose whereabouts only Booth seems to know. Let the double-crossing begin.
As this is Reynolds’ third appearance on this list, it’s clear that his name is a big draw for Netflix audiences. Johnson proves the perfect receptacle for Reynolds’ quips and barbs; the chemistry between them means their buddy film almost capsizes the intended one. Gadot is a welcome addition, but despite megawatt star power, the film rises above mediocre. It’s got serviceable action and a premise decent enough to bring together three of today’s biggest movie stars. The film isn’t any more than that, but Netflix audiences didn’t seem to mind. Two sequels are already planned.
NEXT: Best Original Netflix Series
Jay Carter Taylor (she/her) loves movies almost as much as she loves hating movies. She’s haunted film festivals including SXSW, Berlin, Tribeca, TIFF, Fantasia, Venice, and Sundance. She’s never missed a single MCU movie premiere or series even though Pixar and Wes Anderson are more her style. Jay supports female directors and JEDI allyship. She has 1 spouse, 3 sisters, 4 dogs, 9 niblings, and more statement jewelry than sense. She has recently started playing Fortnite with her 8 year old nephew.
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The 10 Most Watched Movies On Netflix, Ever – Collider
That’s a lot of viewing hours.