How ‘Bright’ on Netflix compares to some of the biggest theatrical openings of 2017

Netflix Inc.’s first big-budgeted original film “Bright” garnered 11 million views in the first three days after its release, according to viewership measurements from Nielsen.

The film, a sort of buddy-cop, ride-along meshed with a fantasy flick, stars Will Smith and Joel Edgerton as Los Angeles police officers in an alternate present where humans, orcs, elves, fairies and other mythical creatures coexist.

”Bright,” released on Netflix and in a relatively small number of theaters on the Friday before Christmas, had a reported $90 million production budget, not including additional cash Netflix NFLX, -0.34%  doled out for the film’s heavy marketing campaign spanning internet, TV, billboards and multiple countries.

If Netflix operated more like a traditional movie studio, relying on box office revenue and opening weekend grosses, “Bright’s” 11 million viewers in three days would be equal to about a $95 million Friday-to-Sunday opening weekend at the box office (using 2016’s average movie ticket price of $8.65).

Read: Nielsen finally offering networks desired insight into Netflix ratings

Also see: Netflix says Nielsen’s ‘Stranger Things’ ratings might be ‘upside down’

By comparison, Warner Bros.’s TWX, -0.08%  “Justice League” earned $94 million in its opening, on a reported production budget of $300 million, and, Universal Pictures’s CMCSA, -0.41%  “The Fate of the Furious” brought in $99 million in its debut weekend after carrying a $250 million production budget.

Both films rank in the top 10 opening weekend grosses of 2017. The biggest opening of the year was Walt Disney Co.’s DIS, +0.06%  “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which garnered $220.0 in box office receipts, on a $200 million production budget.

Netflix doesn’t typically release films in theaters. The company has championed a day-and-date release approach, releasing films in cinemas the same day they’re available on Netflix. But that model has been widely rejected by Hollywood and the major cinema chains that show its movies.

As the streamer has focused more on its original film output—Netflix plans to release 80 films in 2018—and the performance of those films, questions have surfaced about how Netflix quantifies success, and whether it would one day rely more on box-office dollars.

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Nielsen’s measurement only accounts for U.S. Netflix subscribers. Netflix, which declined to comment for this article, has not been a fan of Nielsen’s measurement because it doesn’t account for mobile or overseas streaming.

Whether “Bright” is actually a success for Netflix or not, however, may remain secret since the company doesn’t release its own viewership numbers.

When Nielsen released estimated viewership for Netflix’s second season of “Stranger Things” in November, a spokeswoman for the streaming giant suggested: “Their math might be from the upside down.”

Also see: How MoviePass plans to make money from its more than 1 million subscribers

“Bright” received a mixed reception. Overall, critics didn’t seem to like the film. It was slapped with a 29% aggregated critic’s score on Rotten Tomatoes, while the audience score was 88%.

Shares of Netflix have gained more than 56% in 2017, while the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.20%  is up 20% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.15%  is up close to 26% during the same time frame.

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