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Why Are Adam Sandler's Netflix Movies So Bad?

By Rick Munarriz - Apr 30, 2018 at 10:48AM

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"The Week Of" becomes the latest poorly reviewed Sandler movie to be bankrolled as a Netflix original release. Netflix and Sandler will be just fine.

The latest Adam Sandler movie dropped over the weekend, and if you missed it you were probably busy lining up to see Avengers: Infinity Wars, watching the NBA playoffs heat up, or just watching paint dry. The Week Of is Sandler's fourth film premiering exclusively on Netflix (NFLX 5.03%), and if we go by what critics and even mainstream movie goers think it's not exactly essential programming that you will need to catch to fit in with the water cooler chatter at work this week.

Just a third of the established film critics tracked by reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes are recommending the movie, which naturally is a pretty rough grade. The irony here is that The Week Of -- despite being panned by two-thirds of professional movie reviewers -- is actually now the highest ranked of all four of Sandler's Netflix releases.

  • The Ridiculous 6 -- Dec. 11, 2015 -- 0% on Rotten Tomatoes
  • The Do-Over -- May 6, 2016 -- 5% on Rotten Tomatoes
  • Sandy Wexler -- April 14, 2017 -- 29% on Rotten Tomatoes
  • The Week Of -- April 27, 2018 -- 33% on Rotten Tomatoes 
Chris Rock and Adam Sandler in The Week Of on Netflix.

Image source: Netflix.

You can do it

The counter-argument here is that Netflix and Sandler aren't aiming to please stuffy critics. Sandler's films gun for mainstream largely young male audiences that find his brand of humor appealing. Well, if we go by the run-of-the-mill Rotten Tomatoes visitors that have seen the four films -- presumably fans of Sandler because no one's forcing them to stream the stuff -- the Audience Score ratings get better, but not by an impressive amount. 

  • The Ridiculous 6 -- 32% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes
  • The Do-Over -- 42% on Rotten Tomatoes
  • Sandy Wexler -- 39% on Rotten Tomatoes
  • The Week Of -- 42% on Rotten Tomatoes 

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score percentages are generally higher for low-brow comedies, but if at least 58% of the people that wanted to see one of the four films walk away with regret there has to be something wrong. Did Netflix blow it? Did the world's leading streaming service make a critical mistake when it decided to double down last year, extending its original four-movie deal with Sandler's Happy Madison Productions by ordering another four films?

"No," is the short answer. It's hard to argue against Netflix. It has gobs of data on viewing habits that we just don't have as head-shaking outsiders. Netflix put out a pretty impressive data nugget when it discussed the deal's extension in last year's first quarter letter to shareholders.

"Since the launch of The Ridiculous 6, Netflix members have spent more than half a billion hours enjoying the films of Adam Sandler," Netflix explains in last month's quarterly letter to shareholders. 

It was ludicrous math at first. Netflix had less than 100 million streaming subscribers worldwide, and the claim was made just three days after Sandy Wexler was released. If every member saw each film -- all the way through the end credits -- it would be a total of 380 million hours. The only way you could get to 500 million as CEO Reed Hastings was claiming was if subscribers were averaging more than a single viewing of each film. The math changes if Netflix is including all of the Sandler movies that it has made available on its streaming platform over the years, but the claim was never fully explained. 

In short, Netflix knows what it's doing. The company now has 125 million streaming accounts on its platform, and that many more data points to decide who it teams up with and what content it cranks out. Sandler is never going to be everyone's cup of tea, but when you have a growing content library like Netflix does you can afford to pay up for shows and movies that will only appeal to select audiences. Sandler is now halfway through his deal, and no one should be surprised if Netflix extends the deal again in a couple of years.  


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