It looks like Netflix’s (NFLX) $200 million bet on “The Gray Man” might have paid off.
The action-packed film starring Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, and Ana De Armas made its debut on the platform on Friday and quickly climbed its way to the top of the streamer’s competitive top 10 list, despite lackluster reviews.
According to the company’s latest global viewing report, subscribers watched more than 88 million hours of the movie within its first three days on the platform (July 22 – July 24).
For context, “Red Notice” clocked more than 364 million hours of viewing time in its first 28 days, while “Don’t Look Up” amassed 360 million hours over that same time period. “The Gray Man” is expected to surpass those figures.
On the heels of those numbers, Netflix unveiled that a “Gray Man” sequel is already in development with Ryan Gosling and directing duo Joe and Anthony Russo all set to return.
A spin-off is also in the works from “Deadpool” screenwriters Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese.
The movie’s $200 million budget makes it the most expensive Netflix film to date.
“Movies are a one-time thing — and some of these costs have gotten so large,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Box Office Pro, told Yahoo Finance.
He described the current streaming landscape as a “Wild West,” with platforms scrambling for top-tier content in order to keep up with their competitors.
“Budgets have been getting bigger,” Robbins added. “The talent is there. It’s just a question of which service is going to streamline the ability to put out quality product consistently and maintain subscribers.”
Netflix, which shed nearly 1 million subscribers in Q2 and revealed softer-than-expected guidance for Q3, has battled an uptick in subscriber churn, or the number of customers that drop off the service.
That comes amid increased competition, with some industry watchers warning that a “streaming recession” is on the horizon. The original streaming giant plans to introduce an ad-supported tier next year to ease some of these woes.
Another monetization opportunity is theatrical partnerships, which is why some industry watchers are questioning why “The Gray Man” did not receive a wider theatrical rollout.
Theatrical “gives you a window where you can make a lot of money on top of your subscriptions — that could even pay your cost of some of these franchise tentpole titles,” Jon Christian, EVP of digital media supply chain at Qvest, the largest media and entertainment-focused consulting company, previously told Yahoo Finance.
Although Netflix has played some original features in theaters, including 2018 breakout hit “Roma” and the more recent hits “The Irishman” and “Don’t Look Up,” those debuts (similar to “The Gray Man”) had very short theatrical windows with much more limited releases.
“Those movies prove that the quality can be achieved, but they didn’t have the same opportunity in theaters and could have done very well,” Robbins said, anticipating that the integration of theatrical content with streaming will take time.
Alexandra is a Senior Entertainment and Food Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193 and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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