Avatar: The Last Airbender beaten to Netflix most-watched by natural disaster thriller

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Avatar: The Last Airbender was Netflix’s most-watched show last week after a much-anticipated release; however, one title racked up even more views.

According to the official Netflix data, the streamer’s live-action adaptation of the popular cartoon series saw 21.2 million views from 19 to 25 February, racking up more than 153 million hours of viewing time.

The Last Airbender was surpassed only by one non-English film: The Abyss, which totalled 22.3 million views in the same timeframe.

The Swedish thriller, directed by Richard Holm (Gåsmamman), tells the story of Frigga (Tuva Novotny), “who tries to balance her risky job as a security manager in the Kiirunavaara mine with her family life, has to fight for her life and the lives of her loved ones when her city starts collapsing into the mine,” per the official logline.

Meanwhile, Tyler Perry’s latest film Mea Culpa was the third most-watched title on the service last week with 16 million views. This is despite a lashing from viewers and critics who branded the Kelly Rowland-starrer one of “the worst films ever made”. It has a “Rotten” score of just 17 per cent on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing.

The Last Airbender has similarly faced criticism from fans who say Netflix “butchered” the original cartoon, which aired between 2005 and 2008 on Nickelodeon.

Gordon Cormier as Aang in ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ (Courtesy of Netflix)
Gordon Cormier as Aang in ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ (Courtesy of Netflix)

The series follows the adventures of Aang (Gordon Cormier), a monk-like child able to manipulate the four elements: water, earth, fire and air.

“We’re trying to make a show for the most viewers possible. That doesn’t mean that there’s anything we’re gonna leave behind from the animated series. There’s not more purposeful deviations in order to make it acceptable for a broader audience,” The Last Airbender executive producer and director Jabbar Raisani previously told Deadline.

“I think it’s really attempting to be as faithful as humanly possible to the animated series, but also knowing that we have to fit it into this eight-episode, driving narrative that keeps us streaming.”

On Tuesday (27 February), analysts from investment bank UBS Securities reported that Netflix was likely to hike prices again in 2024.

The streaming giant increased the cost of its service last October. In the UK, that meant the basic, ad-free subscription rose from £6.99 a month to £7.99, while the premium subscription rose from £15.99 to £17.99.

The analysts estimate that this extra revenue, along with income from the ad-supported tier and healthy subscriber gains should mean the company’s total revenue growth will increase by 15 per cent in 2024, compared to 7 per cent last year.