While a lot of scrutiny was placed on the audience performance of espionage-themed Ryan Gosling action thriller The Gray Manwhich came with a reported $200 million production budget and far more promotional heft than Netflix usually spends for its shows, it was a low-budget romantic drama that actually had Netflix’s biggest weekly film performance of the year.
Purple Heartsstarring Sofia Carson as a struggling singer and Nicholas Galitzine as a troubled marine in a paint-by-numbers sudser about a marriage of convenience that turns into an actual love story, drew nearly 102.6 million viewing hours for the week of August 1-7 on Netflix’s global platform.
No film has had a better week on Netflix this year, English or local language. You have to go back to Christmas week last December (Don’t Look Up‘s boffo 152-million hour week) to find a bigger Netflix audience performance by a movie.
The Gray Man actually had a bigger opening, generating nearly 88.6 million viewing hours in its first three days on Netflix vs. just under 42.3 million for Purple Heartswhich debuted July 29.
but Purple Hearts had a bigger first full week on platform than the Russo Bros.-directed Gray Man, which topped out at 96.5 million viewing hours for the week of July 25-31. (The Gray Man finished 2 among English-language films on Netflix last week, slipping to 38.9 million viewing hours.)
Obviously, Gray Man and Purple Hearts are very different movies. But when it’s mulling its next big-budget feature full of pricey well-known box-office talent, perhaps Netflix will opt instead to put its money toward making three or four low-budget genre films full of no-name performers who appeal to Gen -Z audiences.
It’s a reminder that this younger edge of the Netflix audience is what really drives the major hits like Stranger Things on the platform.
Like all successful Netflix movies, critics be damned — Purple Hearts scored a 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. “The film wallows in contrived plots and subplots, made worse by the dearth of chemistry between the two leads,” wrote the New York TimesClaire Shaffer.
Of course, spending $200 million does get you a longer tail.
cumulatively, The Gray Man — which premiered July 23 — captured 223.9 million streaming hours in its first 15 days on Netflix, ranking it No. 6 all time among Netflix movies. By the time the 28-day period Netflix uses to gauge opening is up, The Gray Man should overtake The Adam Project at no. 4 on Netflix’s all-time movies list.
Among other Netflix categories, the first-season original series DC Comics adaptation The Sandman had an unspectacular yet promising opening, capturing nearly 70 million viewing hours in its first three days on the platform.
Neil Gaiman, David S. Goyer and Allan Heinberg serve as creators of the well-regarded Sandman (85% aggregation score on Rotten Tomatoes), with