Bird Box: Why a Subpar Film Got So Much Attention

Bird Box: Why a Subpar Film Got So Much Attention

Written by Isabella LoNigro 

Bird Box is a horror-thriller that centers around Mallory (Sandra Bullock) in a world where a mysterious force is terrorizing the population. Nothing is known about this force except that if you see it, you take your own life. Bird Box features a star-studded cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, and Machine Gun Kelly (yes, that really was Machine Gun Kelly), and was seemingly successful. Netflix recently announced that more than 45 million Netflix accounts had watched at least 75% of Bird Box in its first seven days. With up to four people sharing an account or multiple people watching on the same one, this number is estimated to be closer to 100 million viewers. Despite the astonishing numbers, the film was average, with many remarking on its disappointing and anti-climactic ending. So why was everyone talking about it?

The answer is, it has little to do with Bird Box and a lot to do with Netflix. Netflix is and has been revolutionizing the way we watch television. Nowadays Netflix is producing numerous original movies with A-list actors such as Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jack Black and of course the stars of Bird Box. It may seem surprising that these actors would turn to Netflix after starring on the big screen, but there are two simple explanations.

By working on Netflix original productions, actors can be paid more. Netflix can allocate more funds toward actors because it produces and broadcasts through its own platform and self-advertises on its own app, which happens to be accessed by tens of millions of people each day. Additionally, actors don’t care about where they are being watched, only that they are being watched – and Netflix has definitely proven its large viewership.

Netflix has not solely been featuring stars, it’s been launching them. Think Joey King from The Kissing Booth and Lana Condor from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, as well as their male opposites Jacob Elordi and Noah Centineo, respectively. Sure, they all had some varying foundations of careers, but Netflix undoubtedly propelled them into a new level of stardom among young people. Netflix has hacked the system, expertly employing story elements that capture young viewers’ attention and keep them invested in their original content.

Perhaps one of the most common ways the legacy of Bird Box is being carried is through memes. As an Instagram user, it was almost impossible to escape them. Not everyone may know this, but meme accounts can be paid for advertisement. The account creates a meme featuring something and posts it as if it were any other post. Many of the first Bird Box memes are speculated to have come from Netflix itself. It just took a few posts and the internet did the rest for them. Bird Box was all over Twitter, Instagram and even the news due to the #BirdBoxChallenge. People were talking about Bird Box before they had even seen the film. After hearing about Bird Box all day, Netflix users are bombarded with Bird Box ads when they open their Netflix account, which inevitably results in them sitting down with their friends and family pressing play to see what all the fuss is about.  

With 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, I doubt Bird Box will win any awards, but it did expose a new side of media and television; a future of social media posts instead of billboards, and streaming apps instead of movie theaters. The future is coming faster than one might think, and soon enough local movie theaters and ad agencies will start feeling the impact.

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