Rebel Moon Part Two – Does Anyone Care?

Debunking Zack Snyder’s Fuzzy Math

Rebel Moon started off as a very basic concept – Zack Snyder’s failed Star Wars pitch brought to life by his deal with Netflix. And to his legion of (non-bot) fans out there, getting to see “Snyder Wars” was a winning proposition. After all, the filmmaker was “done dirty” by those evil executives over at Warner Bros. when it came to his DC movies, so now he gets to do his own version of Star Wars and create a new IP for starving sci-fi fans!

The hype for Rebel Moon Part One: A Child Of Fire was pretty high leading up to its premiere on Netflix on December 15, 2023 – just in time to cash in on the barren Holiday Season. A huge number of Netflix subscribers couldn’t wait to tune in to see what “legendary filmmaker” Zack Snyder was going to deliver to them for their downtime during the holidays when the only competition in the theaters was Wonka.

And then, people saw the film.

To say audiences didn’t respond well to Zack Snyder’s thinly veiled rip-off of Seven Samurai in space (a concept Battle Beyond The Stars actually did much better) would be an understatement. The derision and backlash from audiences were pretty much immediate, with both critics AND viewers poo-pooing “Netflix’s big new IP.” Despite all the hype and the alleged “army” of Snyder fans out there, Rebel Moon Part One ended up landing with a resounding THUD.

Rebel Moon numbers

And now, with the impending release of Rebel Moon Part Two: The Scargiver, we’re going to see if audiences will return to the series or if the lackluster reception of the first film killed this budding franchise before it even got off the ground.

But according to Zack Snyder when he was interviewed on The Joe Rogan Experience, Rebel Moon Part One was a bonafide blockbuster hit for Netflix, despite all the negative reviews and audience derision. According to Snyder, Rebel Moon was actually bigger than Barbie, the major blockbuster of 2023. With the help of some really shady math, Snyder states:

“You think about Netflix, for instance, where you push a button. Rebel Moon, right? Say right now it’s almost at 90 million views, right?  80 or 90 million accounts turned it on, give or take.  They assume two viewers per screening, right?  That’s the kind of math.  So you think if that movie was in the theater as a distribution model, that’s like 160 million people supposedly watching based on that math.  160 million people at $10 a ticket would be… what is that math?  I don’t know.  160 million times ten.  That’s $1.6 billion.  So more people probably saw Rebel Moon than saw Barbie in the theater, right?”

Now, there are a LOT of problems with Snyder’s analysis of his own movie here, the biggest of which is that he’s equating views with accounts, assuming a one-to-one ratio. Snyder believes one view equals one Netflix account. But this is NOT how Netflix calculates views. Netflix follows a model where the average viewership for its content breaks down to total hours viewed divided by total runtime. This calculation doesn’t account for how many people are actually viewing the content; rather, it’s an aggregate of how many plays the content got collectively among all accounts. So, even if a viewer didn’t finish the content, the amount of time they spent watching is added to the average view tally. Therefore, a movie that got 100 million watch hours and is 2 hours long would have gotten 50 million views, by Netflix’s calculations.

Now, let’s apply this to Rebel Moon.

As of March 2024, Rebel Moon has 72.9 million views on Netflix. By multiplying this number by its 2hr 15 min runtime, we can see that it has 156,735,000 watch hours. According to Scott Stuber, Netflix’s global film chief, big-budget tent pole films need to draw an audience of more than 70 million viewers within the first 28 days of a film’s availability. These are for movies in the $200 million budget range. The reported budget for both Rebel Moon movies combined, according to Forbes, is $166 million. Considering Netflix is essentially getting four movies for that price (counting the “Director’s Cuts”), that’s a pretty good deal on their part.

So, considering Rebel Moon Part One already hit Netflix’s benchmark for a “success” in terms of watch numbers, it’s a certainty that Netflix considers the $166 million investment a good one. Thus, even if Rebel Moon Part Two underperforms in terms of viewership, Netflix has already gotten its money’s worth.

But the question then comes back to Zack Snyder’s analysis.

Rebel Moon numbers

As of the start of 2024, Netflix has 260 million subscribers to the platform. So, let’s say that Snyder’s one-to-one analysis is correct and that Netflix associates one subscriber account with one view. That would mean an estimated 73 million accounts watched the first Rebel Moon. If Netflix assumes an average of two viewers per account, then that becomes a total audience of 146,000,000 viewers worldwide. The average price of a movie ticket worldwide is $11.23. If we multiply this by the total number of Rebel Moon viewers, we get a box office of $1.6 billion – a box office total that is actually in line with Snyder’s math.

However, when you consider that only 14% of viewers currently prefer going to see a movie in the theater as opposed to streaming it at home, the number of people actually going to the theater in Snyder’s equation drops to 10.2 million. And when you multiply that number by the average ticket price, you get a box office of $114 million, which doesn’t even come close to covering the budget of the Rebel Moon films.

And when you compare this with the last theatrical release that Snyder both wrote and directed that was an original IP, the 2011 movie Sucker Punch, that movie grossed $89.8 million worldwide, which means the $114 million estimation is far closer to reality than Snyder’s $1.6 billion number was. (Even his official DC movies, with the IPs like Batman and Superman behind them, didn’t come close to $1 billion at the box office.)

Of course, the true metric of the health of the Rebel Moon franchise would be if we knew the average retention rate of the movie – as in, how many people watched all the way through to the end versus people who stopped watching and never returned to finish it. Another metric would be how many people re-watched movie. These two metrics would give us a much better idea of how much viewers enjoyed the movie than simple view metrics.

The real barometer is going to be how many views Rebel Moon Part Two gets when it is released on April 19. Will it hit Netflix’s benchmark of 70 million views in the first 28 days to be considered a $200 million success on the platform? Or will we see a major drop-off in total worldwide views, considering how poorly received the first film was?

But even if Rebel Moon Part Two: The Scargiver is a success, and a new IP is successfully launched, we know one thing overall is true…

Zack Snyder can’t math.

Watch the Rebel Moon Part Two: The Scargiver trailer here:

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Comments (2)

March 20, 2024 at 11:27 pm

Let’s get ready for some

March 21, 2024 at 5:15 am

I don’t care if it was more profitable than Barbie or not. All I care is the fact that man so much hated by Hollywood was able to make his vision true. Maybe it’s not so symbolic event as the release of the epic SnyderCut, but still I’m grateful that I was able to see this movie made real. I deeply care about this universe and I really hope that 2nd part will make enough money to justify making next Rebel Moon movies.
Stop pretending that Rebel Moon was a bad movie, when there’s so much woke trash around. It has classic story. Then what? Using the hero journey scheme is now a crime? Effects were great as always, music was epic, costumes well made, backgrounds detailed, world alive, it introduced a lot of lore, characters had enough time to shine and we have to remember that part one, just like in Dune’s case, was only a half of the movie. And Snyder was still able to give us satisfying ending.
In my opinion, we should support such independent creators like Snyder instead of attacking them for being themselves. After all, Rebel Moon is an individual franchise. This isn’t The Last Jedi. It won’t hurt your beloved stories ;)

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