One of the most frequent criticism lobbed at Netflix is its carefully selected viewership data that it chooses to share. For one, each “view” only consists of someone watching something for two minutes. And for another, Netflix only ever touts its hits, not its misses. Which is why it’s somewhat refreshing to hear Netflix film chief Scott Stuber admit in a new interview that Michael Bay’s $150 million blockbuster 6 Underground was, well, a creative bust despite high viewership data.
We figured as much. The film was released in 2019 with a cast that boasted Ryan Reynolds, Corey Hawkins, Mélanie Laurent, and Dave Franco, but it made absolutely no cultural mark. It came and went in a flash, despite a family friendly December release date. It currently sits as the fourth most-popular Netflix original film according to their carefully curated data, racking up 83 million “views” in its first four weeks.
As part of a profile in Variety, Stuber was touting certain Netflix originals that have spawned franchises like The Kissing Booth, Extraction, and The Old Guard when he admitted that 6 Underground’s performance wasn’t up to snuff and would not be spawning a sequel:
“We didn’t feel like we got there on that one creatively. It was a nice hit, but at the end of the day we didn’t feel like we nailed the mark to justify coming back again. There just wasn’t that deep love for those characters or that world.”
It’s interesting that although Stuber acknowledges 6 Underground was “a nice hit” it was not a candidate for a sequel because there wasn’t a “deep love” for the film’s characters or world. That seems to suggest that Netflix is taking intangibles into consideration in addition to viewership data – or it suggests that the vast majority of people who watched two minutes of 6 Underground turned it off after only a few more minutes.
We know that one of Netflix’s most vital internal metrics when it comes to renewing or cancelling a series is how many people actually completed watching a full season, so it stands to reason they pay attention to how many people actually finish the Netflix movie they start watching. Unfortunately they don’t release that data as of yet, but we can surmise based on their decision to greenlight, say, more The Old Guard and Extraction films that most people finished those movies.
6 Underground infamously received awful reviews, with many calling the film nearly unintelligible, so this isn’t exactly shocking news here that it’s not getting a sequel. But it’s certainly fascinating to hear Netflix’s film chief admitting that one of their movies was a creative failure versus simply clinging to carefully curated data.