Despite a Terrible Rotten Tomatoes Score, Rebel Moon Could Be a Success

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Summary

  • Despite negative reviews, Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire has become a hit on Netflix, garnering millions of views and surpassing other popular titles.
  • The film’s success on Netflix suggests that audiences may have ignored the bad reviews and were drawn to Zack Snyder’s visual flair and the sci-fi/fantasy elements in the story.
  • While Rebel Moon debuted lower in popularity compared to other Netflix original films, its long-term prospects, including the release of Part Two and an R-rated Director’s Cut, could generate more interest and justify Netflix’s investment in Snyder’s project.


A Zack Snyder release is big news, no matter which side of his you fall on. If you love him and ride hard for anything the director puts out, his movies become must-see fare. If you’re at the other end of that spectrum and find him to be lacking, there is still a curiosity factor regarding what he does next. In the case of Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire, critics weren’t all that impressed given its dismal Rotten Tomatoes score, but data shows that audiences on Netflix may have turned the film into a hit despite its less-than-desirable notices.

Rebel Moon – Part One – A Child of Fire is a space opera Snyder directed and co-wrote with Kurt Johnstad and Shay Hatten. Based on a story Snyder conceived, the film details the fictional galaxy ruled by the imperialistic Motherworld, whose military, known as the Imperium, looks to threaten a farming colony on the moon of Veldt. A former Imperium soldier named Kora (Sofia Boutella) makes it her quest to recruit warriors from across the galaxy to make a stand against the Imperium before they return to Veldt. In addition to Boutella, the film stars Djimon Hounsou, Ed Skrein, Michiel Huisman, Doona Bae, Ray Fisher, Charlie Hunnam, and Anthony Hopkins.


Reviews for Rebel Moon Weren’t Strong, But Audiences Are Responding

It was clear as soon as divisive early reactions dropped following screenings of the film that Snyder’s latest was going to be in trouble with critics. This became evident once reviews hit Rotten Tomatoes, where Rebel Moon eventually settled at a low 24 percent on the review aggregator. According to the consensus on the site, “Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire proves Zack Snyder hasn’t lost his visual flair, but eye candy isn’t enough to offset a storyline made up of various sci-fi/fantasy tropes.” This seemed to indicate that the film was DOA, but the numbers it’s putting up on Netflix suggest that audiences may have ignored the bad reviews to turn Rebel Moon into a hit.

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Rebel Moon entered Netflix’s Top Ten as the most-watched title on the platform, having been viewed 23.9 million times. The news was even better in its second week when it was again the most-watched Netflix title from Dec. 25 to Dec. 31, securing 34 million views. This marked an increase of 10.1 million views, showing that Snyder’s fanbase and curious viewers were interested in checking out Rebel Moon, particularly over the holiday break.

An image of Netflix's Top 10 movies including Rebel Moon Part One
Netflix

For comparison’s sake, the film saw a greater second-week increase than Netflix’s other two big hits from the end of the year. The Julia Roberts-led movie Leave The World Behind, which has seen plenty of conspiracy theories since its release, debuted with more views overall with 41.7 million. Still, it only saw an increase of 3.2 million views in its second week, rising to 44.9 million. The children’s animated film Leo also debuted stronger with 34.6 million views but only registered 23.6 million views in week two.

Whether Rebel Moon is a total success is still up in the air, but it may have done enough to generate goodwill for those who watched it to check out Part Two and view a reported R-rated Director’s Cut that has become a staple of Synder’s career. It should be noted that Rebel Moon debuted as only the ninth most popular Netflix original film of 2023 for its opening weekend, and it has dropped out of the US Netflix Top Ten list completely following its initial holiday surge.

Pushing the film out of the Top Ten as we entered 2024 was The Equalizer 3, Angelina Jolie’s Those Who Wish Me Dead, Aquaman, the first three John Wick movies, and licensed fare such as Super Mario Bros. and The Meg 2. Even Justice League, not the Snyder Cut, and The First Purge remained in the Top Ten to kickoff 2024, with not one Netflix original making the cut.

Longterm Prospects Suggest Rebel Moon Is a Success

However, looking at the bigger picture, Rebel Moon could see continued success with new installments in the franchise and will likely more than justify Netflix going all in with Snyder. Part One will likely increase and surge once again when Part Two of the film is released in April, and then there is the inevitable R-rated Director’s Cut that was being touted as soon as Rebel Moon hit the platform.

It’s possible that the Director’s Cut numbers won’t be factored into the first release, but fans may want to go back to the original to see the key differences between the two cuts. If anything, Snyder is a pro at maintaining interest in his work within his fanbase, which is one of his greatest talents as a filmmaker and salesman.

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Some will point out that Rebel Moon may not hit the heights of the most-watched Netflix original film (Red Notice, one of the best newer action movies on Netflix, amassed 230.9 million views), but given the sci-fi nature of Snyder’s film compared to the more action/comedy/heist vibes of the Dwayne Johnson title, Rebel Moon has a more niche and dedicated audience. Netflix may have hoped for larger numbers out of the gate, but if Snyder promised them their very own Rebel Moon universe, its long-term prospects might be more important than being a mega-hit out of the gate.

Rebel Moon is going on no matter what, with Part Two set for Apr. 19 and the eventual R-rated, three-hour Director’s Cut, which doesn’t have a release date as of now. Part One and Part Two were filmed simultaneously, and it is likely that the second installment also has an R-rated Director’s Cut, which means that the platform has four shots to generate traffic to the streamer during different release schedules.

The overall performance of Rebel Moon also shows that Snyder is ultimately critic-proof. Even if his projects aren’t well-received, he has a loyal enough fanbase to bring in numbers. The director has proven himself for Netflix before with Army of the Dead and Army of Thieves, so he has a lot of goodwill with the streamer for them to think of the endgame prospects of his pricey sci-fi endeavor. Reviews may have suggested that Rebel Moon was a miss, but views so far seem to prove that you can never count Snyder out.

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