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Netflix Movie Flops That Are Actually Worth Watching

Netflix is notoriously tight-lipped about its viewership stats. There are various reasons why Netflix is reluctant to share viewership numbers, but certainly one of those reasons is that it doesn't want to draw attention to movies that aren't performing well on the platform. For every hit Netflix movie that viewers spend over 280 million hours watching, there are plenty of flops that go almost unnoticed. Just because a movie bombed on Netflix, however, it doesn't mean it's bad by any means.

To determine what counts as a "flop," we've examined what little Netflix data is available to the public. We've looked at Complete Viewing Equivalents (or CVEs), a metric used by What's On Netflix's Top 10 Report to measure viewership. We've also studied statistics from Entertainment Strategy Guy, who compiles information from various sources (including the Nielsen Ratings and TV Time) to determine the biggest streaming flops. We've even used raw data released by Netflix itself during its 2023 data dump.

What we found may surprise you. Among these Netflix flops are an overlooked conspiracy thriller, some Oscar hopefuls, and a bunch of forgotten animated films — each of which is definitely worth watching, though it seems very few people actually did.

Spaceman got knocked out of orbit

Although most of Adam Sandler's filmography has not been popular with critics, Adam Sandler movies have always seemed to dominate Netflix. Not so for "Spaceman," which performed terribly for such a major Netflix Original title. In fact, it ranks among the least-viewed of Adam Sandler's Netflix films. How could a disaster like "The Ridiculous Six" beat out a thought-provoking sci-fi like "Spaceman"? Perhaps sci-fi fans were simply more drawn to "Dune: Part Two," which hit theaters the same week "Spaceman" arrived on Netflix.

"Spaceman" is totally unlike the kind of comedy films Sandler is best known for, but Sandler proves more than capable in this dramatic role. In this movie, Czech astronaut Jakub (Adam Sandler) undertakes a solo mission into the cosmos (and may or may not be running away from problems with his marriage). While in space, he befriends a mysterious spider-like alien (Paul Dano). Critics loved Dano's voiceover performance, which is simultaneously creepy and soothing. Audiences will also appreciate the touches of director Johan Renck (who previously directed episodes of "Chernobyl" and "Breaking Bad"). Renck and his cinematographer, regular Joachim Trier collaborator Jakob Ihre, take full advantage of the zero-gravity setting to deliver some beautiful and atmospheric shots. The tropes in "Spaceman" may be familiar — and done much more effectively in films such as "Interstellar" and "Ad Astra" — but the bizarro pairing of Adam Sandler with a giant spider alien makes this story stand out in its own right.

Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood didn't take off

It's actually rare for an American Netflix Original film to not make Netflix's Top 10 at some point after its release. So it's strange that "Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood" is one of only a handful of Netflix Original films in 2022 to not make that list, especially since the film boasted a voiceover performance from Jack Black. But it seems like not even an A-lister like Jack Black could save Richard Linklater's "Apollo 10 1/2" from obscurity. Ultimately, this whimsical film fell under the radar and became one of Netflix's biggest flops of the year.

"Apollo 10 1/2" boasts a fun premise: A kid (Milo Coy) in 1960s Texas is selected to lead a secret mission to the moon, long before Neil Armstrong even set foot there. Although the film spends surprisingly little time showing the moon expedition (which may have been one of the reasons viewers turned away), what the film focuses on instead is arguably just as compelling. First and foremost, "Apollo 10 1/2" is meant to be a charming slice-of-life story about growing up in the 60s; watching a kid walk on the moon is just a bonus. This movie has plenty of anecdotes that many viewers will find relatable, whether it's playing pranks on neighbors or breaking bones in schoolyard games. If you're looking for a nostalgic movie that you can curl up on the sofa and enjoy, "Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood" is the perfect comfort food.

The Kitchen didn't sizzle

Daniel Kaluuya's directorial debut alongside Kibwe Tavares, a sci-fi movie called "The Kitchen," wasn't exactly a hit. While critics were fond of the movie, giving the film a Rotten Tomatoes score well over 85%, Netflix viewers weren't nearly as happy with it. "The Kitchen" landed an audience score of less than 50%. It's true that the film made it onto Netflix's Top 10 charts the week of its release, but compared to some other British Netflix Original films (such as "Luther: Fallen Sun" or "Persuasion"), its showing was pretty anemic.

With that being said, there's plenty to love about his movie. Although this story is mostly grounded in reality (complete with some all-too-realistic depictions of gentrification), it also offers some fascinating sci-fi concepts. Just look at the deceptively benign Life After Life program, which seems at first like a cathartic way to see off your dead loved ones but turns out to have a much more sinister purpose.

The world of "The Kitchen" will reel you in. Rather than bombarding audiences with exposition, the film simply immerses viewers in its universe and lets them soak it in. You will fall in love with the tightly-knit community living in the tenement known as "the Kitchen." In particular, it's impossible not to like the grandfatherly Lord Kitchener (Ian Wright), whose friendly radio presence unites everyone in the Kitchen. You have probably never seen a dystopian film as gentle, inviting, and realistic as this one.

Wendell & Wild couldn't raise the dead

Knowing that "Wendell & Wild" was the first movie from "Coraline" director Henry Selick in more than a decade and that Netflix had enlisted big names like Angela Bassett, Keegan-Michael Key, and Jordan Peele, you'd think this movie would be a hit. Nope. Instead, "Wendell & Wild" is considered one of the biggest streaming service flops of 2022. In retrospect, this may have been because the film's PG-13 rating meant that it couldn't reach as many kids, while the mere fact that it was animated turned away some adults, so everybody missed out.

This stop-motion movie deserved so much better. With CGI being the industry standard for animation these days, it's refreshing to see a movie so tactile. Fans who love "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Coraline" will eat up this paranormal tale about a Black teenager (Lyric Ross) who strikes a deal with two demons (Key and Peele). Throw in a Gothic Rust Belt backdrop and an Afro-punk soundtrack, and you've got a film that feels unlike any animated movie you've ever seen. Sure, "Wendell & Wild" has a lot of balls to juggle, and it doesn't quite catch all of them. But it's far more satisfying to see an animated movie that takes risks than one that always plays it safe. If you've ever wanted to see Key & Peele raise the dead using magic hair cream (a goal that should be on everyone's bucket list), then this movie is a must-see.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom hit rock bottom

The farther back in time you go, the harder it is to find solid viewership data on Netflix movies. Still, we think it's safe to say that "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" was far from popular. According to data released by Netflix in May 2024, this movie only managed to accumulate 500,000 hours viewed between July and December 2023. While newer titles from 2023 obviously fare better on this report, the performance of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" is still pretty shabby even compared to other Netflix films from the same awards season, like "The Trial of the Chicago 7" and "Pieces of a Woman." Even "Bird Box" still racked up 10 million hours viewed in the second half of 2023, though it had been released five years prior. Even worse, if you look at the viewership for every Netflix Original that received an Oscar nomination, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" ranks very close to the bottom, right alongside "Mank" and "Roma."

All this to say that "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" could use a little more love. In this film, director George C. Wolfe leans into his theater roots, staying faithful to the play it's based on, even as he also takes full advantage of the cinematic medium. There's not a single bad performance in this movie, but the highlights are the two leads. As the Mother of the Blues, Viola Davis completely commands your attention. And in his final movie, Chadwick Boseman gives a performance so gripping that most viewers believe he should have won an Oscar for it.

Nyad couldn't keep its head above the water

"Nyad" boasts an amazing pedigree. Not only does it have two actresses who were nominated for Oscars multiple times — Annette Bening and Jodie Foster — but also the Oscar-winning directors Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, so what could go wrong? Alas, this biopic about a 64-year-old woman who swam from Cuba to Florida sank right to the bottom. It became one of the worst-performing Netflix Original films in the U.S. for 2023.

That's unfortunate, because this inspiring movie is definitely worth a watch. As Diana Nyad and her friend and trainer, Bonnie, Bening and Foster have excellent chemistry. As well, many critics loved Rhys Ifans as Nyad's reliable navigator who doesn't mince words. Unlike some sports biopics, which have a tendency to idolize their heroes, this movie is not afraid to show the less flattering sides of Nyad's character: her ego, her stubbornness, and her tendency to push herself (and Bonnie) beyond their limits. In spite of this, Bening always ensures you are rooting for her character. It is extremely satisfying to watch Nyad grow as a character and Bonnie discover strength she didn't know she had. Just like the characters they play, Bening and Foster both demonstrate that they may be well into their 60s but are still no less powerful.

Kids weren't interested in My Father's Dragon

Looking back, 2022 was a bad year for independent animation on Netflix. Just like "Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood" and "Wendell & Wild," the film "My Father's Dragon" barely made a dent on the viewership charts despite being one of the best family movies of 2022. Compared to licensed titles not owned by Netflix — like "The Bad Guys," which dropped on Netflix in the U.S. the same month — "My Father's Dragon" just wasn't very popular with kids. If it's any consolation, the film probably would have been even more of a flop if the filmmakers had tried for a wide theatrical release, so perhaps it's better that it came out on Netflix.

"My Father's Dragon" is a sweet and sincere animated movie, an increasingly rare breed. The story follows a boy named Elmer (Jacob Tremblay) as he searches for a dragon on the magical Wild Island. The movie has great voice work all around, especially Whoopi Goldberg as the talking cat and Gaten Matarazzo as Boris the dragon. Of course, it's not just for kids. Watching Elmer acting as a surrogate parent to Boris — and along the way, understanding the struggles of his own single mother (Golshifteh Farahani) — will resonate with many adults in the audience, especially those who are parents themselves. "My Father's Dragon" may be the lowest-rated movie from Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon, but even the lowest-rated Cartoon Saloon movie is still impressive by any other metric.

Rustin failed to draw a crowd

Poor George C. Wolfe. First "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and then "Rustin" — this director hasn't seemed to have much success with Netflix. "Rustin" was the first U.S. Netflix Original film of 2023 not to make Netflix's global Top 10 ranking. In fact, before "Rustin," it had been more than a year since an American Netflix film failed to achieve that status. However, that doesn't mean it's not worth a watch.

The best part of "Rustin" is its star: Colman Domingo inhabits the role completely, capturing the eccentricities and underappreciated genius of the titular historical figure. Watching Domingo, it's easy to understand how this man had the magnetism to rally communities from across the nation to join the 1963 March on Washington. Most Netflix viewers have probably never heard of Bayard Rustin, so this biopic does an excellent job of introducing them to this forgotten figure. Wisely, the movie doesn't try to capture Rustin's entire life story, instead focusing on his contributions to a key moment in U.S. history. "Rustin" may not reinvent the biopic wheel, but it's still a movie that more people need to see.

Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths was too weird for audiences

"Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths" joins the ranks of Oscar hopefuls that were largely ignored by Netflix audiences. This magical realism drama about a navel-gazing artist might remind viewers of "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)." But while "Birdman" won Alejandro González Iñárritu multiple Oscars and brought Michael Keaton into the spotlight once more, "Bardo" received only one Oscar nomination and failed to show up on any major viewership rating list. In fact, "Bardo" is the lowest-rated film in the director's entire filmography.

Audiences were likely turned off by the film's two-and-a-half hour runtime. However, if you're willing to endure the long running time, watching "Bardo" can be a rewarding experience. Some of the film's most surreal moments are moving or hilarious — or both. For example, in one scene, Silverio (Daniel Giménez Cacho) awaits the birth of his newborn son, only to find that the baby has no interest in coming into this world. Instead, the baby wants to climb right back into the womb, and the doctors assist him in doing exactly that. This is arguably the strangest and most memorable depiction of a miscarriage in the history of cinema. As well, "Bardo" is loaded with beautifully-composed shots from cinematographer Darius Khondji, ranging from a metro train with fish flopping on the floor to Silverio's elongated shadow as he drifts above the desert. The film may not always make sense, but its images will stay with you.

Nobody knew what to expect from Entergalactic

Despite being one of the best animated movies on Netflix, "Entergalactic" didn't quite make a splash like its filmmakers hoped. Audiences knew it was a new animated project from music artist Kid Cudi, but the film's marketing campaign left viewers confused – was it a TV series, a movie, or a TV special? As a result of this unclear marketing, the movie flopped, becoming yet another animated feature from 2022 that never appeared on Netflix's Top 10 charts.

"Entergalactic" may have been created to showcase Kid Cudi's new album, but it's far more than just a music video. It's also an uplifting rom-com, a thoughtful reflection on what it means to be a Black artist, and proof that there are no limits to what you can achieve with animation. "Entergalactic" follows comic artist Jabari (Kid Cudi) as he struggles to find a balance between his art and his love life. This movie does a brilliant job of giving its characters time to breathe (and giving viewers time to soak in the beautiful animation). If the movie's gorgeous New York cityscapes and its animation style look familiar, that's because the backdrops of this movie were co-designed by Robh Ruppel, who previously worked on visual development for "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse." So if you're still waiting for the third "Spider-Verse" movie to come out, "Entergalactic" might be just what you need in the meantime to satisfy your need for luscious animated visuals.

They Cloned Tyrone lost to Barbenheimer

Have you ever wanted to enjoy the campy fun of a '70s B-Movie without any of the dated tropes? If so, "They Cloned Tyrone" is the answer to your prayers, a socially conscious and wickedly funny update of the genre. Too bad it was one of Netflix's biggest flops of 2023. Netflix was likely hoping "They Cloned Tyrone" would be one of their biggest releases of the summer. Unfortunately, the movie soon became a footnote in the conversation, thanks to the cinematic showdown of Barbenheimer. Why Netflix thought it would be a good idea to release "They Cloned Tyrone" the same weekend as these two box office behemoths is anyone's guess. It's a damn shame, because "They Cloned Tyrone" is an awesome movie and definitely worth watching.

"They Cloned Tyrone" follows the unlikely team of a drug dealer (John Boyega), a sex worker (Teyonah Parris), and a pimp (Jamie Foxx) as they uncover a conspiracy so deep that it literally extends beneath their entire community. The film takes concepts that would sound downright absurd on paper (mind control via fried chicken???) and weaves them together to form a razor-sharp thriller. Of course, underneath all the clones and fried chicken, there's actually some acute social commentary. The film explores systemic racism and the way marginalized communities are trapped in the roles that society has written for them. Combining a timely message with pure entertainment, "They Cloned Tyrone" gives you the best of both worlds.