Top 10 most popular original films: Based on the number of hours viewed in the first 28 days after release, Netflix’s data tracks the most popular films. These are the most popular original films on the platform.
Netflix has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on original film and television series.
As a result, movies like Roma and The Power of the Dog have been nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, and television shows like Squid Game have become cultural juggernauts.
Netflix’s own data measures the popularity of all of its releases, and while the business has been notoriously tight-lipped about its content’s viewing figures in the past, it has recently begun disclosing data on some of its most popular original films and television episodes.
Enola Holmes (2020)
Enola Holmes, starring Millie Bobby Brown as the titular Enola Holmes, sister of world-famous investigator Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill), became one of Netflix’s most-watched movies, racking up about 190 million hours of viewing time in its first 28 days.
Millie Bobby Brown was acclaimed for her first significant leading role, while Cavill’s interpretation of the renowned detective was also praised, despite the fact that it resulted in a Netflix lawsuit.
With such a large audience and positive critical reception, it’s no surprise that Netflix decided to make a sequel.
Enola Holmes 2 is set to premiere on Netflix in late 2022, after production on the sequel wrapped up recently.
Spenser Confidential (2020)
Spenser Confidential, directed by frequent Wahlberg collaborator Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg and Winston Duke, is an action-comedy that failed to wow critics when it was released in 2020.
Despite a clumsy plot that deviates significantly from the source material, Netflix’s Spenser Confidential has been a big hit, aided no doubt by the cinematic appeal of lead actor Mark Wahlberg.
During its first six weeks on Netflix, the movie was watched by over 85 million Netflix accounts (via Deadline). Spenser Confidential 2 is currently in the works, with all major players from the original set to return.
6 Underground (2019)
Before the release of Red Notice in 2021, 6 Underground was Netflix’s most expensive film at the time. It was director Michael Bay’s first foray into the world of streaming platforms.
With a diverse star-studded cast that includes Ryan Reynolds, Mélanie Laurent, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Dave Franco, some fans will be disappointed that 6 Underground lacks the over-the-top elements that make Bay’s better films guilty pleasure viewing.
Although the film failed to please reviewers, it was a great hit for Netflix, cementing its status as the ninth most-watched Netflix movie in terms of total hours viewed.
Despite its success, the sequel to 6 Underground has been canceled.
The Kissing Booth 2 (2020)
This sequel to the 2018 teen romance comedy was critically derided when it was released in 2020, yet it still drew huge enough crowds to deserve a threequel and a spot on this list.
The Kissing Booth 2, based on author Beth Reekles’ bestselling teen novel of the same name, was a major smash for Netflix, racking up about 210 million viewing hours in its first 28 days.
While critics may not have been moved by Elle and Noah’s long-distance love, the series’ fans have committed hundreds of millions of hours in their journey.
The Irishman (2019)
The Oscar-nominated criminal drama directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino, among others, was a massive project for Netflix. Netflix opted to fund the film in 2017 after it languished in development hell for years due to its massive expense.
Netflix’s risk paid out well for the company, with The Irishman receiving ten Academy Award nominations in 2020. The film became one of Netflix’s most popular original films of all time after its release.
The Unforgivable (2021)
Sandra Bullock’s second collaboration with Netflix, The Unforgivable, marked her return to the big screen for the first time since 2018’s Bird Box.
The film is based on the ITV miniseries Unforgiven and follows the plot closely, depicting the story of a woman who returns to society after a long period in jail, and society’s inability to forgive her for her previous acts.
The Unforgivable garnered about 215 million hours of viewing in its first 28 days, demonstrating Sandra Bullock’s star power and the pull her presence has on audiences.
Extraction, set against the backdrop of international arms deals and drug trafficking, was Joe and Anthony Russo’s first excursion into a new action franchise after completing a string of Marvel films that culminated in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame.
Extraction, starring Chris Hemsworth, was hailed for its action set-pieces and stunt artistry, but the movie was panned for its aimless plot.
When it was released in 2020, Extraction was Netlfix’s most-watched movie (based on the number of individual accounts that streamed it, not the total amount of hours streamed), according to co-CEO Ted Sarandos (via Fortune).
Bird Box (2018)
Susanne Bier’s post-apocalyptic thriller starring Sandra Bullock, based on author Josh Malerman’s novel of the same name, became Netflix’s most-watched original movie when it was released in 2018.
Bird Box was Netflix’s most-watched movie from 2018 until 2021, when it was dethroned by the film now at number one, demonstrating the horror hit’s enormous staying power.
Bird Box’s longevity as Netflix’s most-watched movie is made all the more astonishing by the fact that it had a far lower number of Netflix subscribers in 2018 than it has now.
Don’t Look Up (2021)
After its release in late 2021, Adam McKay’s Best Picture nominated black-comedy satire starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, and Jennifer Lawrence, among a slew of other renowned actors, became a culturally significant film.
Don’t Look Up was originally intended to be a climate change allegory, with the meteor representing humanity’s imminent natural disaster, but when it was actually published, it came to represent the management of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Many believe that the film’s mockery of the media was directly responsible for its low critical reception, yet its popularity with audiences cannot be overstated. In the first 28 days after its release, Netflix customers watched nearly 360 million hours of Don’t Look Up.
Red Notice (2021)
Since its premiere in 2021, Netflix’s most expensive film to date has been a great hit with its audience, accumulating more than 364 million hours of viewing time in the first 28 days.
Red Notice, directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber and featuring one of the most bankable cast lists imaginable, including a starring triumvirate of Dwayne “The Rock,” Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds, allows each of the major protagonists to play themselves on-screen.
The film was not well received by critics, who felt it lacked innovation and ambition, especially given the high price tag and large ensemble cast.
Netflix, on the other hand, has had a huge success story, which is why two sequels are already in the works.