LOS ANGELES • The critics had given their thumbs down. But Netflix's ambitious attempt at a big-budget film - Bright, starring Will Smith - drew enough viewers in its first three days to rival the opening-weekend audiences of several top Hollywood movies this year.
It got 11 million viewers from Dec 22 to 24 in the United States, according to Nielsen data. If those viewers had each paid the average movie ticket price of about US$9 (S$12) in America, that would have been a US$99-million debut at the box office - roughly what The Fate Of The Furious did in April.
A caveat to those numbers: Netflix subscribers use the service to get a variety of programming and might not have paid to see Bright if it was available only at the theatres.
Netflix disputes Nielsen's methodology to begin with, in part because it measures views only on televisions. Netflix does not release its own audience data.
But the numbers have to be encouraging for Netflix, which spent about US$90 million to make Bright. The buddy-cop film, with elements of fantasy, got positive reviews from only 12 per cent of top movie critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
The viewership well exceeds the three million Americans who watched the first episode of the most recent season of The Crown this month, but trails the 15.8 million who tuned into the first instalment of Stranger Things 2 in October.