Netflix has released a flurry of original content over the last decade, and the streaming service's 10 biggest movies of all time include some surprising entries. The streaming giant currently has over 223 million subscribers across the globe, with many logging in hundreds of millions of hours watching new films and television series that are released each week. The last few years have been a testament to how popular Netflix is, and its popularity won't be decreasing any time soon. While many of their projects are hit or miss, some stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Netflix has released many notable movies that didn't make their top 10 all-time list such as Enola Holmes and Army of the Dead, the latter of which was recognized at the 94th Academy Awards for winning the Oscars Fan Favorite contest. The service is so beloved that a campaign was recently launched for Netflix to save the Snyderverse, which had recently come to an end due to the reinvention of the DC Universe. While that likely won't happen, Netflix has been open about wanting to create a major franchise that could rival some of the biggest currently in the film industry. Potentially drawing inspiration from one of its top 10 titles of all time.
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10 The Irishman
Martin Scorsese's The Irishman saw the reunion of some the greatest actors of all time including Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino. The gangster film focuses on De Niro's Frank Sheeran, a truck driver that became a hitman involved with Pesci's mobster character, Russell Bufalino, and Pacino's Jimmy Hoffa. Based on the nonfiction book I Heard You Paint Houses, the three-and-a-half-hour-long drama exemplified Scorsese's exceptional talent in The Irishman's plot.
Upon its release in the fall of 2019, The Irishman was viewed by 17.1 million people during its first five days, including 3.9 million on the day of release. The movie gained more traction during the Thanksgiving period, becoming the fourth most-watched Netflix film of the year and the fifth most popular overall at the time. Netflix eventually revealed The Irishman had been watched by 64 million households over the first four-week period, and the movie now sits at 214.57 million total hours watched.
9 The Unforgivable
Based on the British miniseries Unforgiven by Sally Wainwright, The Unforgivable had a remarkable cast with the likes of Sandra Bullock, Jon Bernthal, and Viola Davis. Bullock's character Ruth is released from prison after 20 years for murdering a sheriff who evicted her and her sister from their home, however, she struggles to rejoin society as they condemn her for her actions, and she sets out to find her sister. The movie received mixed reviews due to its story, but it was the most-watched film on Netflix's English-language charts during its release week, with over 85 million hours viewed.
According to TV Time, The Unforgivable was the most-streamed movie on Netflix in the United States and held its top position on the streamer's charts the following week. It became Bullock's second film to land on Netflix's all-time top 10 list with a current total of 214.70 million hours watched. Despite its neutral reception, The Unforgivable's hopeful ending contributes to it being one of the service's biggest movies ever.
Related: The Unforgivable: Why Ruth Takes The Blame For Killing The Sheriff
8 Purple Hearts
Panned by Rotten Tomatoes for looking "super-cheap" and lacking "any coherent sense of self," Purple Hearts is based on the book of the same name by Tess Wakefield. A hopeful singer-songwriter marries a Marine in order for them to receive military benefits and pay off their individual debts, but a tragedy turns their fake relationship into a real one. Its negative reviews didn't stop Purple Hearts from its overwhelming success and quickly becoming a hit for Netflix, with casual talks of a potential sequel happening.
Along with the poor critical reception, Netflix's Purple Hearts had controversies that led to an overwhelming amount of online backlash. Despite this, Purple Hearts managed to dethrone The Gray Man in its daily popularity chart after spending a single day on the streaming service. Furthermore, Netflix's Global Top 10 chart revealed the film had over 48 million hours watched in its first week, with an additional 55 million hours added the following week. To date, the movie has totaled 228.69 million hours streamed, and it was confirmed by Netflix to be the third most-watched movie of 2022 on the streamer.
Released shortly after the COVID-19 shutdown occurred, Extraction set numerous records for Netflix. Serving as one of the best action movies of 2020, the film sees a ruthless mercenary on a mission to save the kidnapped son of a crime lord. Written by Joe Russo of the Russo Brothers directing duo and directed by stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave, Extraction received overwhelming praise for its action sequences, including its 12-minute one-take fight scene. Quickly becoming Netflix's biggest premiere at the time, the movie was watched by nearly 100 million households during its first four weeks of release.
With 231.3 million hours viewed, the reception for Extraction quickly got a sequel greenlit, with Russo, Hargrave, and star Chris Hemsworth returning. Set to release on June 16, 2023, Extraction 2 will explain how Taylor Rake is still alive after his apparent demise. It's also said the film will be part of a larger cinematic universe set around the world of Extraction that the Russo Brothers hope to be developing for Netflix. An origin story for the character Saju was also rumored to be in development as of 2021.
Related: Hemsworth's Extraction 2 Action Scenes Beat Anything The MCU's Thor Did
6 The Adam Project
Featuring the debut performance of upcoming Percy Jackson star Walker Scobell, The Adam Project tells the story of a time-traveling fighter pilot who lands in the year 2022 and teams up with his younger self to save the future. Despite not being one of Netflix's highest-rated movies, the starring cast including Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, and Zoe Saldaña, were praised for their performances. Named as one of the best sci-movies of 2022, it's not a new genre for many of these actors. However, its creativity led to its rapidly increasing popularity.
During its first weekend streaming, The Adam Project was watched by three million households in the US. As of January 2023, the movie has a worldwide total of 233.15 million hours streamed. Entertaining and compelling from start to finish, The Adam Project was also named the Comedy Movie of 2022 by the People's Choice Awards.
5 The Gray Man
Following their crowning achievements, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, the Russo Brothers teamed up with Chris Evans once again to make Netflix's most expensive movie The Gray Man. Also starring Ryan Gosling and based on the titular book series written by Mark Greaney, the plot focuses on Gosling's CIA agent codenamed Sierra Six who is on the run from an ex-agent and mercenary after discovering corrupt information. With a budget of $200 million, it was a huge move for Netflix that seems to be paying off.
Receiving mixed reviews due to its "clichéd script and breakneck pacing," the movie was watched for 88.55 million hours in its first three days by approximately 43.55 million people. It was the most-watched Netflix film in 84 countries and currently has a worldwide total of 253.87 million hours viewed. Similarly to Extraction, a franchise will be launched due to The Gray Man's sequel setup with Ryan Gosling and the Russo Brothers returning to their roles. Additionally, a spin-off project centering around The Lone Wolf is in the works, which will focus on a different aspect of The Gray Man universe.
Related: The Gray Man Continues A Troubling Netflix Trend
4 Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
The most recent movie to make Netflix's top 10 all-time list, Glass Onion is the sequel to 2019's smash hit Knives Out. Featuring another ensemble cast led by the return of Daniel Craig's Benoit Blanc, Rian Johnson's follow-up film takes a different approach to this murder mystery. While still including twists and turns, the plot revolves around the mystery surrounding a tech billionaire and his eccentric group of friends. Released in theaters for a single week, Glass Onion has had rapid success after landing on Netflix.
As one of the highest-rated movies on Netflix, Glass Onion's twist ending immediately landed it on the National Board of Review's list of the best films of 2022. With 273.2 million hours clocked in, Rian Johnson already confirmed Knives Out 3 is in the works since Netflix holds the rights to at least another sequel in the franchise. Johnson and Daniel Craig have also expressed interest in expanding the universe as long as they get to continue working together. The reinvention of the murder mystery genre makes the Knives Out movies instant classics.
3 Bird Box
Bird Box is not only Sandra Bullock's second film to be included in Netflix's overall top 10 movies, but it's also the oldest one to still have a place on the coveted list. One of Sandra Bullock's best horror films, Bird Box is based on the book of the same name written by Josh Malerman and sees Bullock's character trying to protect herself and two children during a post-apocalyptic event. Upon its release in 2018, the movie quickly rose to become the most-watched film on Netflix within its first four weeks.
It may have received mixed reception, but Bird Box's success helped it retain its top spot for three years. Now watched for 282.02 million hours, the initial worldwide viewing figure was said to have been more than 45 million in a seven-day period. A study from Barclay even suggested that if Bird Box was released in theaters with a traditional release window, it likely would have received about $98 million worldwide. To date, Bird Box is still among Netflix's biggest movies.
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2 Don't Look Up
Arguably the most divisive film to make Netflix's top 10 most popular movies list, Adam McKay's Don't Look Up received criticism for its satirical tone, but scientists ultimately felt differently about how it was handled due to its accuracy at depicting non-responses to climate change. The National Board of Review and American Film Institute named it one of the best movies of 2021, and it went on to receive four Academy Award nominations. Telling the story of two astronomers seeking to warn the world of an impending global disaster that would lead to human extinction, the A-list cast drastically contributed to its immediate success upon its release.
During the final week of 2021, Don't Look Up set viewership records despite its divisive reception. A total of 111.03 million hours watched made it the second-highest amount of views for a film during its release weekend on Netflix. Eventually leading to the current total of 359.79 million hours streamed, Don't Look Up has been watched for over 2 billion minutes, making it one of the most successful movies on the streaming giant.
1 Red Notice
The success of Netflix's Red Notice shouldn't come as a surprise due to its expensive production and all-star cast. While it isn't an amazing film due to its script and predictability, it could lead to Netflix's biggest franchise to date. Red Notice 2 needs to fix its usual approach with The Rock and Ryan Reynolds. This contributed to the movie's predictability because the actors tend to play the same kind of character in their respective careers. But regardless, the cast will certainly draw attention for the sequel.
On its release, Red Notice became the most-viewed film on Netflix and the second most-streamed movie in the United States during its debut weekend. That weekend, it was watched for 148.72 million hours, the highest viewership for any film on Netflix during its release weekend. Now sitting at an unbelievable 364.02 million hours streamed worldwide, the worthy sequel setup can make Red Notice 2 better than the first along with the fact that more planning will be involved since the sequels will be filmed together. The negative reception doesn't change the fact that the Red Notice franchise could very well become the most successful franchise on Netflix.
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