277,900,000 hours — and counting — is a lot of time
According to data provided by Netflix, Red Notice fever is sweeping the globe. The number one movie in 93 countries, from Bahrain to Bangladesh, Israel to Indonesia, Poland to Peru, Spain to Sweden, the United States to Uruguay, Venezuela to Vietnam, and many more, viewers poured in 129,100,000 hours into watching stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot during the week of Nov. 15 alone.
Red Notice, which debuted on the streaming service after a small theatrical run (where it garnered a paltry $162,00 in an international release, with U.S. totals gong undisclosed) has so far been viewed for total of 277.9 million hours, according to Netflix. That translates into just over 31,702 years, meaning if the ancient humans who first arrived in North America queued up and viewed every clocked second of Red Notice they would only be done today. It also gives Red Notice the second-strongest hourly 28-day debut in Netflix history, behind 2018’s Bird Box, which was viewed for 282,020,000 hours, or 32,172 years. Hurry up, ancient humans!
The strong result for the action-comedy adventure was celebrated by Johnson on Instagram. The Rock suggests the movie may have already surpassed Bird Box, though Netflix has yet to formally report the victory.
What does being the “biggest” movie on Netflix mean these days? In an era where major companies like Facebook have been accused of knowingly inflating video metrics, and YouTube numbers can easily be exaggerated through bots, tech giants’ shareable metrics always come with a grain of salt. Netflix itself has been the subject of controversy, with critics noting that these internal metrics have no independent verification outside of the company.
Netflix itself has responded to some criticism of how it used to publicly measure viewership by watching the first two minutes of any given title. That metric was dropped in October in favor of measuring success based on total hours, offering what the company referred to in an earnings call with shareholders as a “better read on viewing engagement and satisfaction.” And the company has hired accounting firm EY to run an audit of its rankings, which it says will be released next year. While a one-time audit does not offer consistency, it fits into larger industry trends of rejecting the longtime standard Nielsen ratings.
To put Red Notice, which lasts 118 minutes, into context, let’s look at a longer movie with a huge cultural impact: Avengers: Endgame. As one number-cruncher points out, based on the number of people who showed up to Endgame in the first two weeks, the reported hours-viewed number for Red Notice would make it a bigger draw in its first two weeks than the Marvel blockbuster.
Endgame is 182 minutes, and based on rolled-up ticket sales data, sold around 349.2 million tickets, meaning theater-goers watched around 1.047 billion hours of the movie. The time devoted to Endgame got even more hardcore: back in March a superfan earned a spot in the Guinness World Records by watching it 191 times in theaters. That’s roughly equal to 24 days and three hours (shout out this time data calculator), which is a long time to watch a movie but barely a blip in the evolution of humanity, which is where Red Notice’s fans are reaching.
Let’s extrapolate further. Let’s say that the Marvel superfan wasn’t content with just watching Endgame, but wanted to watch every MCU from Iron Man through Spider-Man: Far From Home 191 times. Even Thor: The Dark World. That’s 23 movies, equaling out to 49 hours and 56 minutes, as per ScreenRant’s math. That would equal out to 397 days and nine hours, or about a year and a month. If he got nine friends to come along with him, that would equal out to 10 years and eight months. If he got 99 True Believers to come along with him, that would amount to a combined 108 years and six months worth of time. Our Marvel superfan would have to recruit 28,550 MCU stans to watch 23 Marvel movies 191 times in a row to start approaching Red Notice numbers, hitting 31,032 years.
Such a thing isn’t out of the realm with famously devoted Marvel fans, who have made the MCU an inescapable part of not just pop culture, but culture culture. No longer is knowledge of Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet the realm of comic book nerds. A lyrics search of Genius shows Thanos getting mentioned on Eminem and Ghostface Killah albums, not to mention many, many more. Is Red Notice getting this same level of pop culture devotion?
The Netflix blockbuster’s 92 percent audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes suggests that it is a well-liked movie, despite mostly negative reviews. Netflix’s global reach gives it around 209 million subscribers. Unlike the original Marvel fan, Ramiro Alanis, the vast majority of Red Notice viewers didn’t have to watch the movie in theaters. The movie also banks on its tremendously popular stars like The Rock, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot, whose local appeal most likely made the movie popular in Israel.
A quick scan of Rotten Tomatoes verified reviews surfaces a handful of five-star reviews for Red Notice. Take this one from Deb G, which calls it “just really a fun movie. Good chemistry between the actors. Ryan Reynolds is a hoot, and the Rock is solid too.” User Lisa’s five-star review says that Red Notice has a “good story line, Ryan Reynolds was his typical sarcastic self, lots of humor and action packed. Great movie… thoroughly enjoyed it.” The general consensus from the audience raves: The Rock, Reynolds, and Gadot made an enjoyable, if not life-changing, movie experience.
Perhaps some people are mainlining Red Notice, and others are putting it on while looking at their phones and trying to ignore their cousins after Thanksgiving dinner. But the true test of Red Notice’s popularity might lie ahead. Cinemark, a theater chain with hundreds of screens in America, Taiwan, and Brazil, has announced 12 Days of Red Notice, bringing the movie into domestic theaters.
“At Cinemark, we love when we have the opportunity to create a cultural moment and comprehensive entertainment experience around a film,” said Wanda Gierhart Fearing, Cinemark Chief Marketing and Content Officer in a press statement, promising “surprises, giveaways and a Veteran’s Day discounted ticket offer” to sweeten the Red Notice theatrical experience.
If Red Notice is as beloved as its official numbers suggest, fans might be filling up the seats no matter what. And unlike Bird Box, the under-the-radar titan of Netflix’s originals game which is only getting a continuation in the form of a Spanish-langugae sidequel, true success might be clearer by whether there’s a fast-tracked sequel. There’s certainly an intent — just see the end of Red Notice — but like everything in Hollywood, a Red Notice 2 will only happen if the numbers make sense. And maybe they do?