Kurt Russell has played some of the coolest characters in movies during his legendary career, but his recent performance as Santa Claus in Netflix's The Christmas Chronicles might have earned him his biggest audience yet.
During a presentation at the UBS's 2018 Global Media and Communications Conference in New York Friday, Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos said the new Christmas movie was watched 20 million times by Netflix viewers in the first seven days after its release on Nov. 22.
Russell "never had as many people see one of his movies in the first week ever," Sarandos said, reports Variety.
That reach has attracted other filmmakers to Netflix, Sarandos explained, adding that "Being able to offer this collective audience, in a big way that scales, that differentiates us."
Sarandos said Netflix hit a "new gear" when it comes to its movie strategy, pointing out that it has new films from Martin Scorsese, Michael Bay and Noah Baumbach coming in 2019. The service also has several 2018 Oscar contenders, including the Coen Brothers' The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Susanne Bier's Bird Box and Alfonso Cuaron's Roma.
While Netflix agreed to limited theatrical runs for Buster Scruggs, Roma and Bird Box, Sarandos said this was only in order to "maximize consumer choice." In a statement that might make movie purists squirm, Sarandos said he does not "think emotionally it's a different experience" to see a movie at home compared to the big screen.
Sarandos said the 90-day exclusivity theaters want before movies hit streaming is "not consumer friendly," but he added, "We're not trying to hurt theaters in any way."
Also during his speech, Sarandos shrugged off news that Disney and WarnerMedia are working on their own streaming services to compete with Netflix.
"Other people are going to try things, do things," Sarandos said. "Some of them will be successful [but] not to the detriment of Netflix. There's plenty of room in this business for other players to be successful."
The Christmas Chronicles was directed by Clay Kaytis (The Angry Birds Movie) and centers on a brother and sister (Judah Lewis and Darby Camp) who have to save Christmas after they accidentally crashed Santa's sleigh. The movie also stars Oliver Hudson, the son of Russell's longtime partner, Goldie Hawn.
It is just one of several Christmas movies Netflix is releasing this year to compete with the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime holiday movies. Other Christmas movies on the streaming service include The Holiday Calendar, The Princess Switch and A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, the long-awaited sequel to last year's sensation A Christmas Prince.
Photo credit: Netflix