The Rise of the Netflix Hit

Bilge Ebiri, writing for Vulture, has a fascinating analysis of the “Netflix hit.”

Still, the way a company measures success tells us a lot about how it understands its core business. You can see this at work in the way the domestic theatrical box office has transformed over the past several decades. As opening weekends have gained greater significance in a film’s financial success, the studios have become elaborate marketing operations. A big opening weekend is not a sign of quality (since nobody’s seen the movie yet, besides critics, and nobody cares what we think) but a triumph of the marketing department’s ability to get those first butts in those first seats at those first showings. So much so that, nowadays (at least pre-pandemic) we know if a picture will be a hit based on its Thursday-night previews alone. Similarly, that it chooses to focus on those first two (2) minutes tells us that Netflix still views itself primarily through the prism of its technological ability to get its content in front of the right viewers — that dreaded Algorithm, which increasingly sounds less like a program and more like an ill-defined storybook villain.

What is a hit? What is a blockbuster? Seriously, we don’t go to movies anymore because streaming is so much better in most areas the average movie fan cares about.

Still… not going to the theater means you miss out on crowd reactions like this one:

Watching this again, still gets my pulse racing and I KNEW IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN! Lets not lose that feeling okay?