In weekly streaming ratings/viewership updates, the most “in-demand” series last week was Paramount’s Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. The Paramount+ prequel to “the original series,” starring Anson Mount as Christopher Pike, Recca Romijn as “Number One” and Ethan Peck as Spock, debuted to strong reviews and solid “this feels like old-school Star Trek” buzz on May 5. Its “most in-demand series” title, so says Parrot Analytics, implies that folks were happy enough with the pilot to keep watching the second episode. Episode three just dropped yesterday. And it’s right on time as well, as the first nine-episode season of Halo just wrapped up.
For what it’s worth, I am curious how this old-fashioned Star Trek show, complete with intergalactic exploration and somewhat stand-alone episodes, will affect the long-awaited return of Seth McFarlane’s The Orville. That Fox network hit will begin its third Hulu-bound season in early June, having last aired a new episode on April 25, 2019. Will the return of “Star Trek that feels like Star Trek” make McFarlane’s terrific sci-fi adventure comedy less valuable in the pop culture landscape? On a not quite related note, I also wonder how every streaming platform positioning itself as the home of “insert geek-centric IP here” content will create a new streaming-era normal where audiences can still subsist entirely on fantasy franchise content.
For all the chatter about how streaming was going to save the indie film or the sitcom, I imagine there exists a sizable (and more often online) demographic that will watch DC stuff on HBO Max, flip over to DIsney+ for Star Wars, hop over to Paramount+ for Star Trek and jump to Netflix for The Witcher before catching up with The Boys on Amazon. How long before the kind of films that nobody sees in theaters also become the kind of movies and shows nobody watches on streaming? However, don’t despair, as Paramount’s top movie is currently The Lost City, which A) is inching toward $100 million domestic and is currently thriving on the various VOD platforms.
In terms of Netflix’s weekly top ten, there were a few curiosities. First, The Lincoln Lawyer, which has been Netflix’s most-watched show in the United States since last Friday was second for the week/weekend globally against the fourth and final season of Ozark. Still, 45.09 million hours for a well-reviewed and surprisingly addictive (I knocked out the season ova weekend) ten-episode legal thriller (based upon Michael Connelly’s best-selling Mickey Heller novels) is a good start. With all the chatter about how Netflix allegedly wants more conventional episodic content (a “female Reacher” or a newfangled variation of The New Girl), this show is a prime example of getting “conventional” without sacrificing quality. Like Amazon’s Reacher, it’s a four-star example of prime three-star television.
Meanwhile, Rebel Wilson’s Paramount Players-produced Senior Year nabbed 55 million hours, which is about normal for a “was supposed to be in theaters” streaming flick of this nature. The aggressively formulaic and frankly lousy nostalgia-tinged high school farce, about a high school senior who ends up in a 20-year coma and ends up going back to high school as a 37-year-old adult, is the kind of movie that almost certainly would have been a theatrical release even as recently as 2019. To be fair, New Line’s Isn’t It Romantic, also starring Wilson, was a Netflix original outside of North America. More interesting is The Takedown, which is quickly becoming one of Netflix’s biggest non-English-language movies.
Louis Leterrier has made headlines after replacing a departing Justin Lin in the director’s chair for Fast X, and he just happened to have a new action-comedy arriving on the streamer. The buddy cop comedy, starring Omar Sy and Laurent Lafitte, is a sequel to the 2012 actioner The Other Side of the Tracks. The film has been getting mixed reviews, with some brownie points going to the film’s open-faced discussion of institutional racism, corrupt cops and the threat of out-and-proud Neo-Nazis in public life, although that’s pretty much par for the course for many a EuropaCorp action flick (think District B-13). The film isn’t much as a movie. Like a lot of foreign approximations of Hollywood genre films (Crimson River comes to mind), it tries too hard to emulate the tropes and cliches.
It does, however, feature two excellent vehicular chase scenes, including one quite clever second-act sequence involving some unconventional modes of transportation. Anyway, the film has the kind of hypercompetent polish you’d expect when you bring on an action vet like Leterrier (The Transporter, The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans, Now You See Me, Unleashed, etc.), and it rang up 27.01 million hours (around 13.5 million views of the 119-minute feature) and 32.37 million in its first full week. Its 59.47 million hours ranks eighth among all non-English flicks. An added 20 million hours this week would put it in fifth place while an added 40 million hours after that ten-day cume could put it between Black Crab (94.13 million) and The Platform (108.1 million) for third place also behind Blood Red Sky (110.52 million).
There isn’t much “big” news in this week’s Nielsen charts (which tracks ratings for a month prior), except that season six of Better Call Saul on AMC and the arrival of season five on Netflix led to a huge surge in viewership for Netflix. The 50 available episodes of the Breaking Bad prequel/spin-off racked up 821 million minutes in America. Amazon’s sci-fi western Outer Range ended its eight-episode run with around 384 million minutes, while Disney+’s Moon Knight earned 630 million minutes across four over/under 45-minute episodes. Encanto and Seeing Red ruled the movie list yet again, although I’m guessing The Batman (which dropped on HBO Max on April 18) would have topped the charts had HBO Max allowed itself to be included. They are only hurting themselves.