The 10 Most Popular Netflix Original Movies Ever Might Surprise You

The notoriously tight-lipped streaming service just released its original movie viewership data, and there are a few shockers.

triple frontier netflix ben afflect
'Triple Frontier' | Netflix
'Triple Frontier' | Netflix

Just what constitutes a "popular" movie on Netflix has always been hard to gauge. On one hand, there are memeable, word-of-mouth phenomena like Bird Box; on the other there are prestigious, Oscar-nominated dramas like The Irishman. But considering that the company has always been cagey about publicizing its viewership data, it's mostly been a guessing game. Now, however, we have at least some quantifiable sense as to what's hitting with audiences. The company has revealed its 10 biggest movie hits for the first time ever, providing numbers from the company's 2020 Q2 earnings report to Bloomberg that show just how many people watched these titles in the first four weeks after their premieres. 

And the winner is... Extraction, the military thriller starring Chris Hemsworth that dropped earlier this year. In the first month of its release, 99 million people watched the bloody movie directed by Sam Hargrave. That's 10 million more people than those who watched the second-highest ranking movie: Yep, Bird Box, Sandra Bullock's dystopian nightmare. Also on the list, in descending order: Spenser Confidential, 6 Underground, Murder Mystery, The Irishman, Triple Frontier, The Wrong Missy, The Platform, and The Perfect Date

Action and action-adjacent titles dominate. Outside of that there are two Adam Sandler productions in Murder Mystery and The Wrong Missy, one awards-title from a venerated director in The Irishman, one international horror flick off the festival circuit in The Platform, and one Noah Centineo rom-com in The Perfect Date. And, yes, we are shocked that the Noah Centineo rom-com that was most popular with audiences was not either of the To All the Boys movies. The Platform's inclusion is arguably the most surprising as it's the most indie of all those represented, with no big name stars. 

But it's also crucial to note that there is a major caveat to all this information. According to Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw: "Netflix counts anyone who watched at least two minutes of the movie as a viewer." So, yes, if you bailed on The Irishman midway through or just couldn't handle that much David Spade in The Wrong Missy, you still "watched" the title, based on how the service collects its data. 

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.