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The Most Watched Netflix Movie Of 2019 Is Not What You Think

Netflix has revealed its top movie of 2019... and it's probably not the one you think.

In a year in which the streamer fielded original films from Martin Scorsese and Michael Bay — not to mention a pair of critically acclaimed animated theatrical releases — its most popular movie was Murder Mystery, starring Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler. (via The Hollywood Reporter)

The Netflix original improbably garnered bigger numbers than any movie or television series the streaming giant made available this year. Despite the fact that critics were decidedly lukewarm on the flick, the lightweight, relatively unheralded comedy was streamed by over 30 million accounts in its first three days alone, beating out such ridiculously hyped offerings as Martin Scorsese's The Irishman and the third season of the smash hit series Stranger Things.

It's important to note that there are a couple of qualifiers here. In revealing its most popular 2019 movies and series, Netflix counted only those that dropped on the streamer within the 2019 calendar year; their popularity was measured by the number of accounts that watched at least two minutes of a show or movie within the first 28 days of its release, with those only made available later in the year gauged by projected numbers. This means, for instance, that The Witcher — the surprise hit series that dropped on the streamer on December 20 — received its ranking based on such an estimate, and that it may end up ranking higher when its final numbers are available.

While it was reported at the time of its release that Murder Mystery was racking up a surprising number of streams (those 30 million views over its first weekend of availability was a record for Netflix), the fact that the flick beat the pants off of everything else that Netflix had to offer is pretty shocking. It just goes to show that sometimes, the combined might of the world's greatest living director, the world's biggest explosion-meister, and the year's most anticipated TV series on any platform are no match for... er... Adam Sandler.

In all seriousness, is that guy having a heck of a year, or what? He got to host Saturday Night Live for the first time (ending the show with a heartstring-tugging tribute to his late friend Chris Farley), he's generated well-deserved Oscar buzz for his performance in the Safdie brothers' acclaimed crime thriller Uncut Gems, and he starred in the biggest movie on the biggest streaming platform in the world. Not bad for a guy whose career was freaking flatlining, like, a year ago.

What were the top Netflix offerings of 2019?

The rest of Netflix's list of its top ten movie and TV offerings of 2019 isn't quite so surprising. In second place is Stranger Things 3, which set viewership records of its own for an original series; fans absolutely ate up the third season of the hit show, and it'll surprise nobody if Stranger Things 4 (which promises to resolve a cliffhanger or two) performs similarly when it drops, likely sometime in 2021.

Coming in third was 6 Underground, the Ryan Reynolds-starring explosion-fest directed by that most reliable Kaboomsmith Michael Bay. That flick was followed by the only theatrical release in the overall top ten: Incredibles 2, which should be departing to head over to its permanent home on Disney+ sometime this summer. In the number five spot: Scorsese's The Irishman, which we're honestly surprised isn't higher on the list. The Robert De Niro starrer brought Al Pacino into the Scorsese fold for the first time, Joe Pesci was coaxed out of retirement for a supporting role, and the flick was named the best of the year by more than one critics' organization; if only it had featured more explosions and possibly Adam Sandler, it may have performed better.

The Witcher came in sixth, although again, its final position could change once it's been streaming for a full 28 days. The Henry Cavill-starring series, based on the iconic video game series of the same name (which is in turn based on a series of novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski), has generated massive amounts of buzz since it dropped, and while critics haven't taken too kindly to it, Murder Mystery's numbers prove definitively that this doesn't matter in the least.

The original actioner Triple Frontier, which starred such big names as Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, and Pedro Pascal, came in at number 7, followed by the Ted Bundy drama Extremely Evil, Shockingly Wicked and Vile, which featured Zac Efron channeling the notorious serial killer to chilling effect. Season 2 of the acclaimed superhero series The Umbrella Academy came in ninth, and the top ten was rounded out by the Kevin Costner/Woody Harrelson period drama The Highwaymen.

Notable entries on the top ten list of TV series include the second season of You at number 5, even though it only just dropped on December 26; we expect that its final position might be decidedly higher after the 28-day window. The limited series When They See Us and Unbelievable also made the cut, as did the third and penultimate season of 13 Reasons Why.

Rounding out the list of top ten movies (the top seven of which made the overall list) were the Oscar-winning animated flick Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the animated sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet, and the Brenda Song-starring original thriller Secret Obsession.

Overall, it's been a pretty good year for Netflix originals, and the streamer will want to keep dumping money into those exclusive offerings if it wants to fend off the advances of Disney+, which will slowly be absorbing all of the Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars content over the coming year — not to mention fielding its own original releases, including season 2 of the pop culture-saturating hit The Mandalorian and the MCU-set Falcon and the Winter Soldier. We say let the two monoliths duke it out — the end result can only be more and more excellent content for us, the streaming public.