Critics may have skewered it, but filmmaker Adam McKay's star-studded end-of-the-world satire Don't Look Up hit the mark with global audiences for Netflix over the Christmas holiday, with the movie delivering more than 111 million hours of viewing on the platform from Dec. 20-26.
According to Netflix's latest "Global Top 10" rankings, Don't Look Up was the No. 1 English-language film for the holiday week. In terms of overall programming, only Season 2 of Netflix's The Witcher -- measured for its first full week on the platform after debuting Dec. 17 -- drew a bigger audience. Eight hourlong second-season episodes of The Witcher garnered nearly 168.5 million hours of viewing on Netflix from Dec. 20-26.
As for Don't Look Up, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a Michigan State astronomy professor, who along with one of his a PhD candidates (Jennifer Lawrence), discovers a comet on a certain collision course with Earth. Meryl Streep plays the vastly unqualified, pathologically narcissistic U.S. President, too distracted by her poll numbers, to comprehend, much less competently act on, the dire information she receives. Jonah Hill plays the President's son -- and her chief of staff -- too shallow, callow and insolent to do anything much but enable his mothers worser angels. Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Ariana Grande and a few other well-knowns add to the star power.
McKay's story, according to the Wall Street Journal's Joe Morganstern, is "squandered in a slapdash, scattershot sendup that turns almost everyone into nincompoops, trivializes everything it touches, oozes with self-delight, and becomes part of the babble and yammer it portrays."
Don't Look Up has an aggregated critics score of only 54% of Rotten Tomatoes.
But call it a hit.
By our admittedly somewhat flimsy math, 111 million viewing hours translates to around 48.3 million viewing sessions on Netflix worldwide. Multiply 48.3 million times the average U.S. ticket price ($9.16), according to the National Association of Theatre Owners, and you get $442.2 million.
Factor in that much of those viewing hours accounted for more than one person watching, and you have numbers that approach -- or maybe even exceed -- the massive $1 billion-plus global box-office haul of Sony's Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Of course, especially in the COVID era, it remains apples vs. oranges to compare theatrical and home streaming revenue performances. But this little exercise does suggest that even when Netflix misses on something, it still seems to come out ahead.
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!