Netflix's top 10 movies: there are some definite surprises on the list

Action fronted by a well-known actor dominates the top 10 list

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Netflix has revealed its most watched original movies for the first time.

Extraction, a gory action thriller starring Chris Hemsworth, delivered the biggest audience of any Netflix original movie in its first four weeks, according to statistics the company gave to Bloomberg.

Also in its 10 most-watched original movies, in order, are Bird Box, Spenser Confidential and 6 Underground. The latter was filmed in Abu Dhabi.

Netflix has historically been secretive about viewership, but has recently begun to release handpicked data, often disclosed in quarterly financial results. This is the first time Netflix has released a list of its 10 most popular original movies.

All four of the most-watched films are action movies or thrillers with prominent movie stars: Chris Hemsworth, Sandra Bullock, Mark Wahlberg, and Ryan Reynolds.

Three comedies also made the list, led by Murder Mystery, as did an adult drama, Martin Scorsese's The Irishman. Netflix counts anyone who watched at least two minutes of the movie as a viewer, so the stats are quite distinct from box office takings on that front: it's not often you'll buy tickets for a movie and then only sit in the cinema for two minutes.

All 10 of the movies were released in the last three years, most of them in the past 12 months, which makes sense when you consider that Netflix has added 43.6 million customers since the start of 2019. This means, each new release can reach a larger audience than its predecessors.

The longtime chief content officer Ted Sarandos has just been named co-chief executive at Netflix, after it delivered a disappointing subscriber forecast and sent its shares plunging as much as 15 per cent in late trading.

The top 10 movies, in order:

1. Extraction (99 million views in first four weeks)

2. Bird Box (89 million views)

3. Spenser Confidential (85 million views)

4. 6 Underground (83 million views)

5. Murder Mystery (83 million views)

6. The Irishman (64 million views)

7. Triple Frontier (63 million views)

8. The Wrong Missy (59 million views)

9. The Platform (56 million views)

10. The Perfect Date (55 million views)

Netflix has scored with genres that once packed movie theatres but now struggle to get time on a release calendar bursting with comic book movies, animated sequels, and low-budget horror. The average US adult goes to fewer than four movies a year.

A mix of new filmmakers and proven Hollywood talent have turned to Netflix to get movies made as a result. The Russo Brothers, who co-wrote and produced Extraction, have also made Marvel movies, while veteran filmmakers Susanne Bier, Peter Berg, and Michael Bay all appear on this list as well.

Netflix has released more original movies than any major Hollywood studio in recent years. “We want an impactful movie every two weeks,” says Scott Stuber, the head of Netflix’s film division.

"For one person, that's Extraction. For another, it's The Wrong Missy."

More on Netflix's most popular movie of all time

The big-budget action thriller Extraction is set in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka, one of the most densely populated cities in the world. It's in this urban sea of people and traffic that Chris Hemsworth's battle-scarred mercenary engages in a torrent of gun fights, car chases and hand-to-hand combat.

Extraction, produced with the Marvel-trained muscle of Joe and Anthony Russo (Avengers EndgameCaptain America), wasn't shot in Dhaka but in Thailand and Ahmedabad, India. In India, it was one of the largest Hollywood productions to set down on the subcontinent. The throngs there doubled for Dhaka and populated Extraction, a teeming movie made very obviously before the pandemic era of social distancing.

This image released by Netflix shows Chris Hemsworth, right, and Rudhraksh Jaiswal in a scene from "Extraction," premiering this week on Netflix. (Jasin Boland/Netflix via AP)
This image released by Netflix shows Chris Hemsworth, right, and Rudhraksh Jaiswal in a scene from "Extraction," premiering this week on Netflix. (Jasin Boland/Netflix via AP)

"There were thousands of people watching each day and erupting at the end of each take. It was like being in the Coliseum," Hemsworth said in an interview with The National by video conference from his home in Australia. "It's interesting now to go: Would you be able to pull that off post-this? It would be very different."

Extraction is the directorial debut of Sam Hargrave, the stunt coordinator on Endgame the former stunt double of Chris Evans' Captain America.

The film re-teams Hemsworth with the Russos, a year after Endgame, in a script penned by Joe Russo a decade ago.

He adapted it from the graphic novel Ciudad, which is set in Paraguay's Ciudad del Este.