Netflix is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to releasing any kind of ratings information. But in July 2020 the streaming giant took a step forward into transparency by revealing its Top 10 most popular original movies of all time, based on viewership within the first four weeks. The list straddles all genres, from sci-fi (“Bird Box”), to comedy (“Murder Mystery”) to awards players (“The Irishman”). At 99 million views, Netflix’s number one movie ever is the action flick “Extraction,” starring Chris Hemsworth as a black ops mercenary who conducts a mission in Bangladesh. See the complete list by scrolling through our photo gallery above, and then fess up in the comments section about how many of these original films YOU have actually seen.
The company started out in the late-1990s as a DVD-by-mail subscription service. Its convenient platform essentially put rental stores like Blockbuster out of business, as people didn’t even have to leave the comfort of their own homes in order to see the latest releases or cult classics. Netflix’s business model changed in the 2010s when it started producing original movies and TV shows.
“Beasts of No Nation” (2015) was the streamer’s first narrative feature film. Even though it was snubbed by the Oscars (perhaps voters weren’t ready to take the plunge into streaming), it still put the service on the awards map by winning a SAG Award for Idris Elba.
Over the past five years Netflix has slowly found a place for itself at the Academy Awards, winning eight trophies overall and being nominated thrice for Best Picture: “Roma” (2018), “The Irishman” (2019) and “Marriage Story” (2019).
“Bird Box” was a breakout hit in 2018, with Sandra Bullock playing a woman who survives an apocalypse in which millions of people commit mass suicide. The genre film marked Bullock’s first foray into the streaming world after previously winning the Best Actress Oscar for “The Blind Side” (2009).
“Murder Mystery” seemed to be just another collaboration between Netflix and Adam Sandler in 2019, but it quickly entered the mainstream thanks to immense word of mouth. This People’s Choice Awards winner for Favorite Comedic Movie stars Sandler and Jennifer Aniston as a married couple who inexplicably become involved in a murder aboard a billionaire’s yacht.
“The Irishman,” Martin Scorsese‘s epic-sized crime drama starring Robert De Niro, is now the sixth most-watched movie produced for the service. Apparently many of those viewers were Oscar voters, as it was nominated for a whopping 10 trophies last year: picture, director, supporting actor x 2 (Al Pacino and Joe Pesci), adapted screenplay, cinematography, costume design, production design, film editing and visual effects. It went home empty-handed on Oscar night.