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Netflix says people are watching the shit out of Bird Box

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Who knew watching Sandra Bullock engage in the world’s most deadly game of blind man’s bluff could make for such top-notch streaming success? Netflix has once again rolled back the veil of secrecy it typically keeps wrapped around its viewership numbers in the name of that most important of principles—bragging—announcing that its new feature Bird Box has become one of its most successful original movies ever. Per the streaming giant—whose word we just sort of have to take with this stuff, because a whole host of envious data scientists have yet to figure out a way to track the company’s numbers independently—the Susanne Bier-directed thriller has racked up more than 45 million accounts worth of views in its first week on the service.


Speculation is running rampant online about what Bier’s film—based on a book by Josh Malerman, in which humanity has to blind itself from the outside world in order to avoid seeing something that drives them to violent suicide—is actually about; our colleagues at Gizmodo and The Root have both offered up plausible theories, ranging from the evils to social media to white people’s life-threatening lack of desire to look at racism head-on. The film’s success, though, is a little more explicable: Sandy Bullock, plus lots of people having a week off, plus a creepy horror premise, equals big streaming numbers. (It doesn’t hurt that we get to see John Malkovich and the ever-great Tom Hollander freak the hell out, always a plus.)

Now, is Bird Box actually any good? Not especially; our own Katie Rife praised its tense opening, but noted that the film quickly devolves into being “overstuffed and so shallow all at once,” feeling like a prestige TV series that got brutally hacked down to a two-hour running time. But that quality also doesn’t really matter when it comes to Netflix viewing habits, which are driven as much by boredom and curiosity as actual merit. Bird Box’s combination of star power and premise was enough to lure people in and get them to look at it, making it the company’s most effective predator for out attention yet.