A New Streaming Film Champion: “Hocus Pocus 2” Scares Off the Competition

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When you try to collect and analyze all the streaming titles each week, you come across some weird TV premieres, like…

Panhandle on…Spectrum. (Even though they stopped making originals…)
Yara Shahidi’s Day Off on…Facebook Watch. (A video service that somehow still exists?)

The best part about that latter title? I couldn’t even find it trying to search for it on Facebook! Their search bar sent me other recommendations. So yeah, maybe, instead of pivoting to the metaverse, Facebook should just, you know, run a working social platform?

(I haven’t really discussed the metaverse yet, but if I ran an entertainment company, it would occupy less than 1% of my brain space.)

This week, on streaming, we have the biggest streaming launch to date, a mediocre prestige title, and a few fun dogs not barking. Meanwhile, the “genre wars”—which I dove deep, deep into on Tuesday—continue to dominate. So let’s dig in!

(Reminder: The streaming ratings report focuses on the U.S. market and compiles data from Nielsen’s weekly top ten viewership ranks, TV Time trend data, company datecdotes, and Netflix hours viewed data, Netflix Top Ten lists, Google Trends, Samba TV, and IMDb to determine the most popular content. While most data points are current, Nielsen’s data covers the weeks of September 26th to October 2nd.)


I love to set up (admittedly artificial) showdowns between streaming films, mainly based on two titles coming out on the same day. And I think this week may take the cake for craziest comparison:

Netflix’s Blonde, an NC-17-rated Oscar-contender.


Disney’s Hocus Pocus 2 , a PG-rated nostalgia play/sequel.

And the winner is Hocus Pocus 2, in a landslide, a landslide that I did NOT see coming. (This is is partially why I avoid predicting winners and losers ahead of time. “Nobody knows nothing” and what not.)

And not just in one metric, Hocus Pocus 2 won a few different metrics. First, Disney+ regaled us with a datecdote, calling Hocus Pocus 2 the most watched Disney+ film in terms of hours viewed. So we can update our datecdote table:

America’s number two streamer hasn’t provided us a lot of datecdotes over the years, which is fine, because, for the most part, we’ve all started to ignore these vague claims of success, because we have streaming ratings now. (And if I’ve missed any Disney+ datecdotes, send me an email! These are hard to track.) To be honest, even after this announcement, I still had questions about whether or not Disney was playing games with this number. 

Then came Whip Media’s TV Time report. And not only did they back up Disney, they doubled down, calling Hocus Pocus 2 their biggest title of the year:

So we knew Hocus Pocus 2 would be big…but I wasn’t ready for how big on Nielsen:

That’s right, the single biggest week for a movie of all time. And the 18th biggest week of all time. And Hocus Pocus 2 came out on a Friday. And since most of the top films were released on Fridays, yes, it’s still number one by roughly the same margin in “viewership per day”. And not only did Hocus Pocus 2 do well, it elevated the first Hocus Pocus back into the top ten charts.

Caveat time! Over the last few months, Disney+ “adult” titles have had pretty steep drop off from their debut week to their second week, and we’ll see if Hocus Pocus 2 drops off, or whether it acts more like a kids animated title, which can be propelled by big rewatchability. (See Encanto.) Both Encanto and Hocus Pocus have identical runtimes (102 and 103 respectively) so rewatch will determine which title ultimately has more viewership through their whole runs.

The other question for Hocus Pocus 2’s success raises is whether or not this movie should have gone to theaters. Obviously, getting this much viewership for Disney+—almost twice either of the two theatrically released Marvel series—seems like a huge win. I firmly believe that a theatrical run would have cut into the top end of this viewership, since it’s so big, something like 10 to 15 million hours worth. But then that’s the question: is it worth 15 million hours of viewing for, what seems clear now, a likely $200 million domestic box office film? And with viewership this high, yes, I think this film would have done well in theaters.

Here’s the updated table with Disney kids films with and without theatrical runs:

Theaters or no, what we can say is that having a deep library of IP to mine can pay dividends.

On the other, more mature side of this matchup, the Ana de Armas-helmed Marilyn Monroe biopic, Blonde, did not set records since its debut. But it was never meant to! Again, this is a NC17/X-rated drama, and expectations are naturally low for films like that.

(Interestingly, Netflix sort of has a cottage industry of films and TV shows with tons of sex scenes that get shared widely online and/or rewatched frequently, so I feel like Netflix probably was fine with the explicit rating. While I doubt they’d ever admit it to protect the brand, they clearly see a role for nudity and sexual content on their platform to drive engagement. )

Blonde had a short run on TV Time. Given the volume of films on streaming, though, quite a few are getting bumped off the charts after only one or two weeks of interest. Here’s the TV Time rankings for the next few weeks:

On Nielsen, it debuted to 10.1 million hours on a Wednesday release, which is probably fine for, again, a prestige-aspiring drama. And with a budget of allegedly $22 million, that’s also not terrible either.

Here’s the film releases for just 2022 so far:

Quick Notes on Film

– It’s officially October—as a reminder, this report has a four week delay to account for Nielsen streaming ratings processing—and that means we’re gonna get lots of horror, monster and Halloween-themed content (Like Hocus Pocus 2 above!). Possibly the strangest film this October will be The Munsters, a Universal-produced, first-run title for Netflix from director Rob Zombie. I’d just say watch the trailer and then ask yourself: if Netflix customers watched this for 6 million hours, how can that possibly help Netflix’s brand reputation?

– But that’s not all for acquired Netflix films this week, as Inheritance—a 2020 film starring Lily Collins (of Emily in Paris fame)—also debuted on Netflix with 5.8 million hours. As you can tell, between this, Hocus Pocus 2 and The Munsters, tis the season for horror. If you’re wondering to yourself, “Hey, which streamer has the best Halloween content/landing pages?” Well, glad you asked. I’ll have that answer next week!

DC League of Super-Pets debuted on a Monday on HBO Max. If you want one movie to symbolize the confusion at DC over the last few years, I’d point to this one instead of the other high profile live-action titles. I mean…what is this? In fairness, I wanted to see it in theaters, but the marketing couldn’t even convince my seven-year-old to join me. Ironically, after we watched five minutes on HBO Max, that did convince her! The film never quite eclipsed the $100 million mark in domestic box office, so this is a fairly mediocre run for a big name animated title. It debuted to 6.8 million hours on Nielsen, which is roughly in line with other HBO films:


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The Entertainment Strategy Guy

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

Former strategy and business development guy at a major streaming company. But I like writing more than sending email, so I launched this website to share what I know.


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