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Zack Snyder Says ‘More People’ Probably Saw ‘Rebel Moon’ on Netflix Than Saw ‘Barbie’ in Movie Theaters: ‘That’s How Crazy’ Netflix’s Distribution Model Is

Zack Snyder appeared on “The Joe Rogan Experience” and championed his recent pivot to Netflix. The 58-year-old filmmaker spent the bulk of his career making movies at Warner Bros., but he made the jump to streaming starting with the 2021 release of his zombie action movie “Army of the Dead.” Snyder’s latest Netflix original was “Rebel Moon,” which debuted in December and kicked off a new space saga for the streaming giant. A second “Rebel Moon” film arrives this spring.

During a two-hour conversation with Joe Rogan, Snyder marveled at the reach Netflix has compared to traditional film studios. He ran some math to prove his point and deduced that “Rebel Moon,” despite being panned by film critics, probably got seen by more people than Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” a box office powerhouse with $1.4 billion worldwide (which made it the highest grossing film of 2023 and Warner Bros.’ top grosser in history).

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“You think about Netflix, for instance, where you push a button,” Snyder said. “‘Rebel Moon,’ right? Say right now it’s almost at 90 million views, right? 80 or 90 million accounts turned it on, give or take. They assume two viewers per screening, right? That’s the kind of math. So you think if that movie was in the theater as a distribution model, that’s like 160,000,000 people supposedly watching based on that math. 160,000,000 people at $10 a ticket would be…what is that math? I don’t know. 160,000,000 times ten. That’s 1.6 billion. So more people probably saw ‘Rebel Moon’ than saw ‘Barbie’ in the theater, right?”

“That’s how crazy Netflix is,” Snyder continued. “That’s the distribution model that they’ve set up. I was at this thing the other day and we were talking about ‘Rebel Moon 2.’ And they were like, ‘Well, talk about “Rebel Moon” the first one.’ I’m like, ‘No, go fucking watch it. I know you have it at your house.’ It’s not like a theater situation. You could turn it on your phone right now and watch it right here if you wanted. That’s how crazy it is. This model, this machine they’ve built is really something else. It’s really crazy if you think about it.”

Snyder brought up Netflix’s ongoing documentary series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” as another example, noting that the streaming giant was able to take a more niche sport in America like Formula 1 and singlehandedly turn it into a bonanza for viewers.

“Netflix is able to insert something into popular culture that’s so like a deep cut, like a documentary about Formula 1,” Snyder said. “How else do you get that to the people, right? No way. You release that in a theater, five people go. Literally five people go. Put it on TV and like 100 million people see it. It’s crazy.

“It’s a different model… you give the audience an alternative,” the director continued. “Like what is ‘Rebel Moon’…that’s new IP, right? No one knows what the fuck that is. Some space thing, I guess. Well, let’s watch it. The barrier for entry is so low that it allows a lot more original and weirdo stuff to exist.”

While Snyder estimates that “Rebel Moon” probably had more viewers than “Barbie,” there’s no way he can deny that film critics preferred Gerwig’s film over his. “Barbie” is nominated for eight Oscars, including best picture, while the first “Rebel Moon” movie was widely panned by critics (it currently has a 21% on Rotten Tomatoes).

“I always thought that I was fully armed to take on those punches, and then I read the critics that came down on ‘Rebel Moon’ and it really affected me,” Snyder’s leading star Sofia Boutella recently told Vulture about the negative reviews. “I’m just gonna be honest about it. I feel like I’m carrying it for everybody that cared so much about this project, and that’s what affected me. Not the way I look. If anything, I’ve been pretty lucky and people like my work in it, but the movie was criticized.”

“It really affected me for all of those who put so much heart, tears, and sweat in this project,” she continued. “It’s hard to see something being demolished to that extent. I’m proud to have been part of it, and if there is no more ‘Rebel Moon,’ it will be a very important part of my life that I will defend forever.”

Snyder loves “Rebel Moon,” of course, but he also told Rogan that he is a big fan of Gerwig’s blockbuster comedy. He said he “loved” the “Barbie” movie and once again addressed a line in Gerwig and Noah Baumbach’s script that calls out the toxicity surrounding Snyder’s cut of “Justice League.”

The Snyder Cut joke in “Barbie” arrives during a critical moment in the film. Ryan Gosling’s Ken has introduced Barbie Land to the patriarchy, brainwashing the once-independent Barbies into existing solely to serve the Kens. America Ferrara gives an impassioned, feminist speech that lifts the spell, prompting a Barbie played by Alexandra Shipp to describe her time being under the patriarchy as the following: “It’s like I’ve been in a dream where I was really invested in the ‘Zack Snyder Cut of Justice League.’”

“That is a line in that movie, literally,” Snyder told Rogan. “And I’m like, that’s awesome. My wife was like, ‘That’s cool, right? That’s cool that they came after you.’ I was like, that’s 100% cool.”

Snyder told Men’s Health last year that Warner Bros. gave him a heads up about the Snyder Cut joke before “Barbie” opened in theaters. “I thought [‘Barbie’] was great,” Snyder said at the time. “And I think the joke is pretty good.”

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