The Sony film’s performance is notable when compared to Netflix’s own original animated features. Among Netflix’s original releases – The Willoughbys, Over the Moon, and Arlo the Alligator Boy – only The Willoughbys has recorded multiple days at no. 1, with two days atop the streamer’s Top 10. The rankings for the company’s other original feature, Klaus, isn’t known since Netflix hadn’t yet introduced its most-viewed ranking when the holiday film was released back in 2019.
Mitchells continues a curious trend on Netflix in which films licensed from legacy studios have outperformed its homegrown efforts, at least in its publicly available Top 10 rankings. Outside of The Willoughbys, the animated features that have performed best on Netflix have been licensed titles such as Despicable Me, The Angry Birds Movie 2, The Secret Life of Pets 2, and The Grinch. It’ll be interesting to see whether this changes after Netflix begins releasing a greater number of its own original features.
Another important question to ask: What do these rankings even mean? Netflix doesn’t offer any insight into how these rankings translate to audience numbers, nor do we have any clearer understanding of how Netflix’s releases have performed against films that are launching on competing services like HBO Max, Disney+, and so on. The Top 10 is useful to some extent, but it’s also difficult to not view it as a fatuous bit of self-promotion for the company. In my view, the most valuable insight we can glean from the strong performance of The Mitchells vs. The Machines is that an animated film has outperformed all of Netflix’s live-action feature product for over a week. Even if we don’t know much more than this, it’s nevertheless a unique accomplishment that reaffirms the strength of animation on the world’s largest streaming platform.