Zack Snyder Says More People ‘Probably’ Saw ‘Rebel Moon’ Than ‘Barbie’ in Theaters

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Zack Snyder fiddled with some interesting math on “The Joe Rogan Experience” to argue that the viewership for his latest movie, Netflix’s “Rebel Moon — Part One: Child of Fire,” surpassed the number of people who saw “Barbie” in theaters.

“So say right now [‘Rebel Moon’] has almost 90 million views … 90 million starts or 90 million accounts turned it on, give or take. They assume two viewers per screening,” Snyder said on the episode that released Thursday. “So you think if that movie was in the theaters as a distribution model, that’s 160 million people supposedly watching, based on that math.”

Based on an estimated price of $10 per ticket, Snyder then said “Rebel Moon” would have generated “$1.6 billion” if it was in theaters.

“More people probably saw ‘Rebel Moon’ than saw ‘Barbie’ in the theater. That’s how crazy Netflix — that’s the distribution model they set up,” Snyder concluded.

For reference, “Barbie” made over $1.4 billion at the box office.

Despite Snyder’s excitement over the performance of his movie, there are a few asterisks to keep in mind when it comes to this claim. First is the viewership of “Rebel Moon” that Netflix reported.

When the movie first premiered, it was the most-watched title of its debut week, accounting for 23.9 million views (views are calculated by minutes viewed divided by runtime). That number, though large, was less than the “opening weekend” viewership of two other major Netflix movie premieres last fall: Sam Esmail’s “Leave the World Behind” opened at 41.7 million views in its first week, and the Adam Sandler-starring children’s comedy “Leo” opened at 34.6 million views.

“Leave the World Behind” would go on to become the fifth most-watched English-language movie in Netflix history, accruing 142.6 million views. “Rebel Moon” has yet to crack that all-time list.

Sofia Boutella stars in Zack Snyder's 'Rebel Moon'
Sofia Boutella in “Rebel Moon: Part One” (Netflix)

There’s also that 90 million figure to consider. “Rebel Moon” spent four weeks on Netflix’s top 10 list for English-language movies, bringing in 23.9 million views in its first week, 34 million views in its second, 11.1 million views in its third and finally 3.9 million views during its final week on the list. That adds up to a total of 72.9 million views. Of course, the movie has likely been seen more than that as viewers continue to watch it on weeks when the movie doesn’t make the top 10 list. However, the 90 million figure Snyder references is not one that’s publicly known.

There is also Snyder’s claim that Netflix assumes two people watch a show or movie “per screening.” That could very well be a metric used inside the company, but it’s not one that’s been publicly released. It is also not how Netflix typically measures its viewership.

TheWrap reached out to Netflix for comment on this story.

Finally, there is the Netflix of it all. Saying that “Rebel Moon” would have made $1.6 billion in theaters is simply an impossible to prove statement as streaming viewership and theatrical viewership is a comparison that’s apples to oranges. It’s reasonable to believe that more people would tune in to watch a movie that’s already included in their streaming service than one they have to pay to see in theaters. So yes, while the viewership for “Rebel Moon” is certainly impressive, the argument that it would have made more money than “Barbie” or that it was more widely seen than “Barbie” theatrically is a flawed one.

Regardless of this strange aside, both Snyder and Rogan sang the praises of Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated movie.

“I enjoyed the Barbie movie,” Rogan said. “It didn’t offend me. I laughed a bunch of times, and I thought it was fun.”

“I love the movie, and I’m actually lampooned in that film. There’s a line in that movie that’s like, ‘I felt like I was in a dream where all I cared about was the Zack Snyder cut of “Justice League,”‘” Snyder said. “I’m like, ‘That’s awesome.'”

A “Rebel Moon” sequel has already been shot and will be released by Netflix in April. The streamer will also release R-rated, extended director’s cuts of both films later this year.

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