Netflix Claims ‘Beasts of No Nation’ Already Seen by Over 3 Million Subscribers
Writing about Netflix is tricky, and not just because of the constant impulse to incorporate timely “Netflix and chill” puns distracting from the matters at hand. Most major forms of entertainment have a discrete and quantifiable metric by which observers in the public can measure their success. The RIAA tracks sales figures for musical releases, we’ve got Nielsen keeping an eye on TV ratings, and the art of analyzing studio-released box-office numbers has become so intricate that it’s spawned dozens of specialty web sites. And yet we have no way of gauging a hit or a flop when it comes to online-streaming; Netflix’s head of content acquisition Ted Sarandos has refrained from releasing subscription or content-specific streaming rates, mostly because he doesn’t have to. No larger presiding body has mandated that Netflix publicize its rates of success or failure, and so Sarandos has decided it’s in the company’s best interest to maintain a veil of secrecy over their operations.
But in a new interview with Deadline, Sarandos surrendered a little ground and spoke about the playcount of the content streaming giant’s first foray into original scripted film programming, Cary Fukunaga’s brutal war picture Beasts of No Nation. When pressed about the streaming figures for the acclaimed film, Sarandos offered:
“It is worth sharing that this movie, in North America alone, has over 3 million views already. Which I think is a bigger audience than any specialty film could ever hope for in its first two weeks of release, and maybe for its entire run. And we’re just starting. We are just thrilled with the total audience reach of this film, not just in North America but the world. In the first week of release, Beasts Of No Nation was the most watched movie on Netflix, in every country we operate in. Even Japan, and I’m only calling out Japan because most specialty films don’t do very much of their box office outside the U.S. at all, let alone in Japan.”
Some industry types worried about the viability of Netflix’s same-day theatrical release model (a small number of brick-and-mortar theaters offered the film concurrently with its debut online) after the dismal ticket sales numbers came in, with only $50,699 coming in across 31 theaters. And of course Sarandos would want to put a positive slant on the release; getting these figures directly from him is like going to a restaurant and asking the head chef if the food’s any good. But three million is an impressive number nonetheless, a figure that’d generate a respectable payday if translated into ticket sales and box-office draws. Netflix intended on changing the game with their big release, and though we mere mortals on the outside of Netflix’s boardroom won’t know either way for a few years, it appears that they might have done so already.