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The Sci-Fi Horror Flop Defying Odds And Killing It On Netflix

Though some movies may not fair well during their tenure as a theatrical release, there is always a chance for a movie to gain new viewership when it comes to streaming services. Coughing up the amount of money required to see a film typically makes some audiences apprehensive, and it seems like the only movies that make money these days are "Avengers"-level outings. Luckily, Netflix is there to help gain some new viewership for movies that may not have been seen by a whole lot of people in theaters. 

This is the case for  2011's "The Thing." Open up the movies catalogue on Netflix, and "The Thing" is not just the first thing many viewers will see advertised, but it is also the third most popular movie on Netflix at this moment.

As a prequel/reboot of 1982's "The Thing," the 2011 movie features the familiar and terrifying story of an isolated research center located in Antarctica. Starring Joel Edgerton, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Ulrich Thomsen, "The Thing" seemed like it would be an absolute slam dunk as a new iteration of the beloved science-fiction classic. Unfortunately, the 2011 version failed to compel theatrical audiences, and some consider it one of the worst sci-fi remakes of all time. 

2011's The Thing failed to make back its budget

Released in October 2011, "The Thing" tells the story of far-flung research settlement and its assortment of scientists who soon find themselves under attack by a shape-changing alien. This plot is similar to the original version from 1982, and the paranoia that these individuals feel often drives the plot forward as they wonder who can they trust when there is an extraterrestrial organism that can kill, assimilate, and mimic other forms of life.

Audiences at the time didn't feel the need to check out the movie, and the film missed the mark at the box office. "The Thing" was created for $38 million, but the movie failed to break even, generating just shy of $17 million in the United States and $10.5 million in international markets. 

Besides just failing to make money, "The Thing" received a middling reception, with Rotten Tomatoes showing that the movie has a 34% critic score and a 42% audience score. Despite a lackluster reception, some critics saw potential in the 2011 movie.

"Fans of the 1982 classic will want to see it and should find a lot to like," Keith and the Movies wrote. "While it trips itself up with an overloaded cast and a few scenes which feel like they belong in another film, it does deliver that almost old-school sci-fi monster movie feel." The critic seems to be right as today's audience seems more interested in the movie than 2011's did.

2011's The Thing acts as a prequel, reboot, and homage to the original film

Although 2011's "The Thing" failed to garner a lot of attention during its original run, it is dominating Netflix at the moment. Perhaps audiences were simply waiting for an opportune time to watch the movie as the original "The Thing" is considered a classic. Now that 2011's version is just a click away, it seems like viewers are giving this movie another chance, even though there are major changes from the original source material.

Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. spoke with Den of Geek in 2012 about some of the changes and ideas he had while approaching 2011's "The Thing," which included how he helped rewrite the first version of the script and had Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) as the main character as opposed to the original's R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell). Heijningen added that the cast didn't need much inspiration when taking on their respective roles. 

"Everyone who was part of this saw and loved John Carpenter's movie," Heijningen said. "I didn't have to explain anything about that sense of awkwardness because there was a great example of it in the movie. We saw the movie all together before we started. So it all felt very natural — it was already familiar to everybody." The similarities to the original film, as well as the difference, seem to finally have been embraced thanks to Netflix.