As these MCU shows become a regular feature on Disney+, it won’t be necessary or fair to constantly compare them to each other.
In what was an otherwise conventional week for overall streaming content, the debut episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had what is arguably a much bigger launch compared to the first two episodes of WandaVision in mid-January. Again, we’re dealing with a month-long gap between airing and ratings, so this will be for the week of March 15, 2021 through March 21, 2021. Since HBO Max didn’t participate, there will be no hard “minutes viewed” figures for Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Not to beat a dead horse, but I’m guessing that if AT&T was overjoyed at the initial viewership (beyond “fine”), we’d know about it. Nonetheless, we may get hard data at the shareholders conference call next week.
First, the most-viewed original show, in total minutes, was Netflix’s Ginny & Georgia, which was viewed 540 million minutes over ten episodes, implying that folks watched the first season just under 1 million times. Yes, it’s likely that folks didn’t necessarily all watch the entire first season in its entirety, but its strength over the first month or so of its launch implies that the Gilmore Girls-ish original was a Netflix winner. The most-watched movie, original or otherwise, was Miguel Arteta’s Yes Day with 593 million minutes. That implies that the Jennifer Garner/Jenna Ortega/Édgar Ramírez-led Netflix original was viewed around 6.9 million times in the Fri-Sun portion of its Wed-Sun “opening weekend.”
Netflix has claimed that 53 million subscribers watched the family comedy in its first month, and the initial viewership certainly bears that out. Apples and oranges, but $9.37 per ticket would be around $64 million for a domestic launch for such a movie, which is about what Arteta and Garner’s Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day grossed in total ($67 million domestic and $100 million worldwide on a $27 million budget) in late 2014. Of note, it earned 434 million minutes just in the first two days of its Wed-Sun “debut weekend,” so arguably it notched a 1.027 billion minutes over its Wed-Sun launch, equal to around 12 million viewings (on par with Coming 2 America’s debut weekend) and around $111 million over the Wed-Sun frame.
Meanwhile, Coming 2 America dropped like a rock on Amazon Prime in weekend three, earning 273 million minutes (around 2.5 million viewings of the 110-minute Eddie Murphy sequel), down 65% from last weekend’s 770 million minutes and 81% from its boffo 1.141 billion-minute debut. That doesn’t mean much more than folks who wanted to see the movie doing so in the first two weeks and then moving on to the next streaming item. The strength for a handful of forgotten theatrical flops (Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez’s Parker, Oliver Stone’s Savages) again shows the under-the-radar value of third-party theatrical content alongside more media-friendly originals. The most-watched movie or TV show was Grey’s Anatomy, with 693 million minutes.
But for those who just came for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier news, the MCU actioner was viewed 495 million minutes over its Fri-Sun debut. Considering that’s just one 50 minute episode, or 45 minutes not counting the extended closing credits, meaning folks watched that one episode between 9.9 million and 11 million times. Comparatively, WandaVision’s two episodes (totally around 67 minutes) were viewed 434 million minutes in its respective Fri-Sun debut, or around 6.5 million subscribers watching the debut episodes. A little apples-and-oranges, since we cannot presume that everyone who clicked “play” on WandaVision watched both episodes over opening weekend and never revisited. But it would seem that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier notched twice as many viewings as its MCU predecessor.
That is no shade on WandaVision. Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany’s Vision are less popular characters compared to Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes. Moreover, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is both a far more conventional “Tom Clancy in tights” action show, a direct sequel to the popular Captain America sequels no-less, compared to the ambitious television-as-soothing-balm fantasy freak-out that was WandaVision. Moreover, you can argue that the relative popularity/quality of the first MCU show made the second one more anticipated. Regardless, as these MCU shows become a regular feature on Disney+, it won’t be necessary or fair to constantly compare them to each other, especially if they do involve lesser-known protagonists and differing genres beyond “action-adventure.”
Post-release data suggests that the 243-minute Justice League was viewed by around (rough estimate rounding up out of mercy) 2.5 million people on HBO Max during its Thurs-Sun opening weekend. Alas, allegedly only 36% of those who started it finished it, which is a shame since the third act is terrific. If we wrongly presume that everyone who saw the movie finished the movie, that would be around 607.5 million minutes viewed, or behind only Grey’s Anatomy and Criminal Minds that weekend. If we only count the estimated 900,000 people who allegedly finished the film, that’s around 219 million minutes viewed, right between Raya and the Last Dragon (203 million in weekend three with a $30 upcharge) and Moana (267 million minutes). The “truth” is probably somewhere in between.