Mudbound has racked up 20 million hours of streaming on Netflix, the online giant’s CEO has revealing.
Reed Hastings, speaking on a TED Talk with TED curator Chris Anderson, revealed that Dee Rees’ historical drama has been streamed a large number of times since its release last year. The movie, which charts the lives of, and conflicts between, two families in post-WWII Mississippi, was snapped up by Netflix at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival for a staggering $12.5 million.
The agreement led to a limited cinema release to pave the way for awards consideration, alongside a worldwide Netflix release. It went on to earn four Oscar nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Original Song and Best Supporting Actress. Despite this high-profile success, there was backlash among some in the media world for Netflix’s involvement with the film, saying it would be buried and unseen online.
Hastings last week revealed that those concerns are potentially misplaced, with more than 20 million hours of the movie watched. With a runtime of 134 minutes, that works out at 8.95 million views, presuming that every user watched the film once – but the statistics being phrased in terms of hours reflects the more realistic environment of home viewing, with some potentially watching it multiple times and others likely to watch the movie in stop-and-start chunks or not even finish it.
“Sometimes you just want to relax and watch a show like Nailed It! And it’s fun, and it’s not stressful,” Hastings said. “Other times, people want to watch very intensive film. Mudbound was Oscar-nominated, it’s a great, very intensive film. And you know, we’ve had over 20 million hours of viewing on Mudbound, which is dramatically bigger than it would have been in the theaters or any other distribution. And so, we have some candy, too, but we have lots of broccoli. And you know, if you have the good mix, you get to a healthy diet.”
With 20 million hours on the clock, and the film not going anywhere, that number can only increase, highlighting the value of Netflix as a platform for discovery.
“A marvellous, weighty piece of filmmaking,” we described it in our review.
Hastings was also quizzed on algorithms and how accurate the company’s recommendations can be, with the site focusing on people’s actual behaviour as well as what they publicly say they like and want to watch.
“In practice, you’re right that you can’t just rely on algorithms,” commented Hastings. “It’s a mix of judgment and what we carry, and we’re a curated service versus a platform like Facebook and YouTube, so we have an easier set of issues, which is: What are these great films and series that we acquire? But then within that, the algorithm is a tool.”
“You know, I think we learn,” he added. “And you have to be humble and sort of say, ‘Look, there’s no perfect tool.’ The algorithm’s one part, the way we commission the content, our relationships with societies. So there’s a lot of ways that we have to look at it. So if you get too stuck in ‘Let’s just increase viewing’ or ‘Just increase subscribers,’ you’re unlikely to be able to grow and be the great company you want to be. So think of it as this multiple measures of success.”
You can watch the whole interview below – or hit the button underneath to add another two hours to Mudbound’s running total.
Mudbound is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.