Early Bright numbers indicate Netflix may have a hit (or maybe not)

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Dec 28, 2017

David Ayer's buddy-cop orc movie, Bright, starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, debuted last week to general disapproval from critics, yet some enthusiasm from audiences. The fantasy subversion had a budget of $100 million and is Netflix's first foray into big-budget original cinema content. Was it worth it? Some numbers are in, and the results indicate that it probably was. 

Although there is no real way to determine full viewing numbers for Netflix (they refuse to release them), Nielsen has attempted to fill the gap by launching its own service that monitors a connected household's Netflix usage. Variety is reporting that according to the Nielsen estimates, Bright had at least 11 million viewers in the first three days of its December 22nd release. 

How does this compare with other Netflix fare? Using the Nielsen numbers, the trade places it below the numbers for Stranger Things 2, but above the second season of The Crown. Variety says that with the numbers they have, Bright could be considered to have had a theatrical opening of $100 million -- right in line with its budget. 

There are a number of other factors at play here, however. First of all, Netflix widely denies the numbers put forth by the Nielsen service, recently claiming that their numbers for Stranger Things 2 were way off. Another factor is that not all televisions are connected to Nielsen. Still, the notion of saying in and watching a feature via a service you may already pay for versus trekking out to a cinema for an expensive ticket must have proved alluring to some moviegoers, especially in the days leading up to Christmas. 

Speaking of ticket prices, another aspect to this whole enterprise is the notion that if Bright was a full theatrical release, a single ticket would cost more than a month of Netflix membership. If a family or a group of friends are watching it together, that would mean the sale of multiple tickets; alas, there is no way to know how many people are watching Netflix once the selection is clicked. 

Tracking Netflix is completely new ground, and until the streaming giant decides to pull back the curtain on its viewing numbers, it will be darn-near impossible to get a full picture. Though it seems unlikely Netflix will suddenly decide to release their metrics (why start now), one thing does show how well something on Netflix is truly doing -- whether or not more of it is ordered. If a (only rumored at this point) sequel to Bright actually goes forward, it will confirm that enough people watched it to warrant a second outing.

Did you watch Bright? What did you think?