Tom Cruise may have saved the movies this summer, but another smaller, bloodier sequel is also grabbing eyeballs and ripping spines (in a good way). The Predator prequel Prey landed atop Hulu’s viewership rankings this weekend. Per Deadline, it was the biggest premiere in the streamer’s history, netting bigger numbers than any movie or TV show before.
Here comes the disclaimer that we shouldn’t accept these numbers as scripture—as much as we would love to make a whole religion out of Hulu’s viewership stats. Like Netflix, Hulu didn’t release numbers, just an acknowledgment that, based on the total number of viewing hours, Prey was number one. We suppose the difference between Prey and Netflix’s $200 million piece of content, The Gray Man, is that people are actually talking about and recommending Prey, garnering that word-of-mouth buzz that used to be important. Meanwhile, no one’s ever heard of a movie called The Gray Man, and anyone who says otherwise must be lying. Streamers are ruthlessly cagey about these numbers for some reason. Heck, they won’t even tell Ben Stiller how many people are watching Severance, which is “really weird,” as he put it.
Nonsense like that make us wish Prey had been released in theaters, where people could pay $15 a pop to see it, everyone gets paid for their work, and more movies get made. Granted, there’s no way to tell if a Predator sequel about the Comanche Nation set 300 years ago would go over at the box office. And there’s no way to know if people would be interested in seeing a movie driven by a good idea rather than a cynical exercise in leveraging existing I.P. Although, a lot of people went to see Nope, another surprising alien encounter picture with a strong sense of character, place, and scope.
It’s even easier to laugh at these things from the sidelines, pleading with studios to release movies in theaters so that we can fully enjoy the work the team behind Prey achieved. Either way, we’re happy to see a movie as fun, original, and exciting as Prey make its way to the top of Hulu, proving that if it bleeds, people will watch it.