It seems like Netflix has done it again!
Without much marketing at all, Bird Box has garnered rave reviews, celebrity recommendations and a whole load of chatter on social media.
Featuring Sandra Bullock in the lead role backed up by Sarah Paulson, John Malkovich and Tom Hollander, Bird Box follows Bullock as she navigates – blindly – to safety after years of living in the darkness thanks to unseen creatures haunting people who happen to be unfortunate enough to see them to committing suicide.
Based on the book of the same name written by Josh Malerman, the film rights were purchased in 2013 by Universal but ultimately fell apart and instead the script was added to the 2014 list of the best unproduced screenplays. And then in 2017, due to one of the original producers joining Netflix the film was green-lighted.
Bird Box was reportedly made for less than $20million which is a very modest cost when you consider the unilateral flop that was ‘Bright’ starring Will Smith only a year earlier had cost an estimated $90m, so you can understand why Netflix decided to reign the costs in considerably.
Netflix released a trailer in October to generate buzz and whet the appetite of Joe Public, but instead, people were generally disinterested and claimed it was too similar to ‘A Quiet Place’ which released in April 2018, receiving positive critics reviews and awards.
However Netflix persisted with the campaign, and Bird Box billboards and digital ads were produced and Sandra Bullock with the director Susanne Bier travelled the circuit, taking interviews and Q&A’s. The film was also given an exclusive one-week screening on the big screen.
But this is where it all gets a little tricky to quantify how well Bird Box did exactly, due to Netflix’s reluctance to issue any viewing figures – ever!
Within days of release social media was full of chatter. People were talking about it, posting memes, trending on Twitter and posting photos of themselves in blindfolds, so much so that by the 2nd January 2019, Netflix had to release a statement:
However looking at the stats that Netflix released on the 28th December 2018, it seems that the viral marketing of the film had really worked with a reported 45m accounts worldwide watching in the seven days since it was released.
Netflix viewing figures have been met with scepticism in the past due to their reluctance when it comes to offering clear and transparent numbers. However, in a new move, Netflix went on to explain loosely how the figures are calculated. In a comment given to Entertainment Weekly, a spokesperson explained: “that a view is only counted when a viewer surpasses 70% of the total running time, including credits.” Also added was a note about multiple views saying that when counted “it (the account) may include multiple views and viewers but is only counted once.”
Which in effect means that Bird Box may very well have had MORE than 45 million views, but not all of them made it to the end, or there were rewatches on the account etc. All in all, this is an incredible figure and one that shows the importance of good quality content, creating a buzz and more importantly, timing. What else is there to do in the festive period than watch a 2-hour film that everyone is raving about?!
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