Netflix's foray into original filmmaking and distribution is showing signs of success, with the war drama Beasts of No Nation racking up more than 3 million streaming views in the US in its 10 days of release. The company's head of content, Ted Sarandos, detailed the numbers in an interview with Deadline today, saying the audience size far outpaces the standard viewing numbers for a traditionally released speciality or independent film.
Netflix released the film, which it bought the rights to in March for $12 million, both on its own platform and in a limited number of theaters in the US and UK starting October 16th. It marks one of the first simultaneous film releases backed by a streaming powerhouse. "We are just thrilled with the total audience reach of this film, not just in North America, but the world," Sarandos said. "In the first week of release, Beasts of No Nation was the most watched movie on Netflix, in every country we operate in."
Beasts of No Nation was the most watched movie on Netflix
Sarandos says the movie — written and directed by Cary Fukunaga of True Detective fame and starring actor Idris Elba — is finding audiences in countries where US-made indie films barely move the needle, like Japan and Brazil. To date, Netflix has 69 million monthly subscribers, 43 million of which are in the US, in more than 50 countries around the world.
Netflix's decision to do a concurrent online and theatrical release was met with heavy pushback from AMC Cinemas, Carmike Cinemas, Cinemark, and Regal Entertainment — the four largest theater chains in the US. Those companies ultimately refused to show the film, leading to a deal with Landmark Cinemas to show the film on only 31 screens in 19 different US markets. The US theater chains responded similarly to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green Legend, which was set for a simultaneous Netflix and IMAX release this past August until it was pushed to 2016. Netflix isn't slowing down, however, and it's already set dates for a slew of upcoming streaming film releases.