Jennifer Lopez Brings A Robotic Sci-Fi To The Top Of Netflix Charts

Last year, Jennifer Lopez starred in so-so Netflix actioner "The Mother," in which she sniped her way through wave after wave of bad guys. Unfortunately the film marked yet another moment whereby the streaming age subsumed a former megastar into its nebulous cloud of generic "content." If "The Mother" isn't enough to convince you of such developments, just take a look at "Atlas," the latest Lopez-starring Netflix original film.

It should be said that the trailer for "Atlas" did look promising, but critics certainly aren't too impressed with this sci-fi actioner, which comes from director Brad Peyton ("San Andreas") and also stars Simu Liu, Sterling K. Brown, and Mark Strong. Lopez plays an AI-wary data analyst who quickly finds herself in a situation where she's forced to rely on a synthetic consciousness to survive a mission gone awry. In a reverse-"Blade Runner" scenario, Lopez's character, Atlas Shepherd, travels to another planet to hunt down a rogue AI/robot thing (Liu). But the mission goes sideways, forcing Shepherd to commandeer a mech run by an onboard AI named Smith.

Atlas is naturally distrustful of Smith, but by the end of the movie, there's some sort of reconciliation, raising the unpleasant question of whether this whole film was designed to endear us all to the AI-driven garbage future that director Joe Russo is so ecstatic about. That said, Liu plays a villainous AI, so maybe things are slightly more complicated than that. Either way, even charting a course for a distant planet wouldn't let the filmmakers escape that rough 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, none of this seems to have put off the most important contingent: Netflix viewers, who have mainlined this latest streaming emission directly into their collective cortex.

Atlas has blasted to the top of the Netflix charts

"Atlas" hit Netflix on May 24, 2024, and wouldn't you know it, the film shot straight to the top of the Netflix charts in countries around the world, including the United States. According to streaming viewership tracker FlixPatrol, at the time of writing, the film has been number one on the Netflix most-watched chart since May 25, meaning it debuted in the top spot. But it's not just viewers in the States streaming this one.

"Atlas" is currently charting in 93 countries, and is number one in 58 of them. That's a massive win for both Netflix and the filmmakers. Films that otherwise appear to be duds do well on Netflix all the time, such as when a horribly-reviewed Spanish slasher climbed the charts last year, or the truly inexplicable Netflix success of Kevin Hart's "Lift" earlier this year. But to not only hit number one in 58 countries around the world, but debut in the top spot in nearly all of them separates "Atlas" from the rest.

Of course, the actual amount of hours viewed will be a better test of how well this film has done, and Netflix won't release those stats for another week or so. But for now, "Atlas" has clearly overcome the bad reviews, and a win is a win (unless you recall the Michael Fassbender flop "The Snowman" charting last year, and proving that Netflix viewers will watch anything).

What does the success of Atlas on Netflix mean?

Until "Atlas" landed on the Netflix charts, the rankings were dominated by Brooke Shields rom-com "Mother of the Bride," which has now slipped to number six (via FlixPatrol). Meanwhile, "Shrek," which took over the Netflix charts in recent weeks, has finally started to move down the rankings as a result of Jennifer Lopez's sci-fi outing arriving on the service. Further proof of the film's success can be seen by taking a closer look at the FlixPatrol data, which reveals that in the countries where "Atlas" hasn't quite hit number one, its lowest ranking is number three. At this rate, "Atlas" could very well claim the top spot in all of the 93 countries in which it's charting by the end of the week.

This is great news for everyone involved with the film, but there is a bit of a gloomy element to the whole thing. This Memorial Day weekend just gone saw some of the worst box office figures for 30 years with the opening weekend box office for "Furiosa" falling far behind "Mad Max: Fury Road." It follows a string of box office failures, most notably "The Fall Guy," which fell prey to Hollywood's biggest box office problem and struggled to even break $100 million at the box office. The only success to speak of, following such a disastrous weekend for the industry, is "Atlas" doing well on Netflix. Does that sit well with you? Or does it feel as though, like Atlas herself, we're on our own ill-fated journey and that something has already gone horribly awry?