Netflix's Spiderhead scores big opening weekend, but there's one man it can't beat

Chris Hemsworth in Spiderhead
(Image credit: Netflix)

Spiderhead, Netflix's starry new psychological thriller, has enjoyed a big opening weekend on the streaming service with over 35 million hours of viewing. But that wasn't enough to see it take the top spot in Netflix's weekly rundown of its biggest movies. 

Netflix has been publishing a weekly list detailing its most popular TV shows and movies over a seven-day period since November 2021. The list ranks titles based on weekly hours viewed – i.e. the total number of hours subscribers globally watched each title between Monday and Sunday of the previous week, with Netflix sharing four separate lists; two for movies (English and Non-English) and two for TV shows (English and Non-English). 

Spiderhead, which is based on the short story Escape From Spiderhead by George Sanders, stars Thor actor Chris Hemsworth, Top Gun: Maverick's Miles Teller, Birds Of Prey's Jurnee Smollett, and Alien: Covenant's Tess Haubrich. 

The Netflix movie is set in the near future and in a world where convicted criminals are offered the chance to volunteer as medical subjects to shorten their sentences. 

Hemsworth, who is also a producer, plays Steve Abnesti, the overseer of the experiment, which includes giving one inmate a new drug capable of generating feelings of love. The prisoner, Teller's Jeff, comes to feel a connection with another prisoner named Rachel, but knowing about the trial, he begins questioning the reality of his emotions. As things progress, Jeff sets out to try and outmaneuver the experiments of the prison and save her...

Joseph Kosinski, who is about to wow us all with his long-awaited action-spectacular Top Gun sequel, has directed the movie, with the script coming from Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. 

The movie enjoyed a very respectable debut, coming in at Number Two in the weekly rundown, a full 12 million hours ahead of its next challenger, animated adventure Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness. But, despite the star power of Hemsworth and Teller, who is still riding high on the success of Top Gun: Maverick, there's one man who they could not defeat...

The Sand-Man cometh...


(Image credit: Netflix)

Adam Sandler. Specifically his new sports drama, Hustle, which enjoyed a second week at the top of the charts. 

Hustle didn't so much beat Spiderhead as batter it, with 57.2 million viewing hours, a full 22 million ahead of the starry sci-fi effort. What's even more impressive is it's Hustle's second week on the platform, last week, it did 84.6 million viewing hours. 

The movie is a sports drama, which stars Sandler as Stanley Sugarman, a basketball scout, who, after discovering a once-in-a-lifetime player with a rocky past abroad,  takes it upon himself to bring the young phenom to the States without his team's approval. Against the odds, the pair must work to prove that they both deserve to make it big in the NBA. 

Analysis: Is Spiderhead a flop or is Hustle a juggernaut?

The answer is a bit of both. 

Hustle has undoubtedly exceeded expectations, with the movie now closing in on 150 million viewing hours and winning a Top 10 spot in a whopping 92 countries. 

Partly that's down to good reviews, something of a rarity for Sandler. The movie has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 92%, and TechRadar's Jon O'Brien agreed, writing in his review that the movie was well worth watching. 

Spiderhead, by contrast, will not have done the numbers Netflix was hoping for. 35 million hours is a lot, but, as a debut weekend, it places it a long way behind the likes of Rebel Wilson's comedy Senior Year, which did 62 million in its opening weekend, Ryan Reynolds' coming-of-age adventure The Adam Project, which did almost 100 million, and even widely-panned erotic sequel, 365 Days: This Day, which managed almost 78 million. 

As much as Hustle has had good reviews, Spiderhead's were mixed, with a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. TechRadar's Richard Edwards wasn't convinced by it, writing that the casting was off, particularly Hemsworth

35 million hours is respectable, but with Hemsworth, Teller, and an in-demand production team, Netflix will have been hoping for The Adam Project-esque numbers and a place inside its all-time Top 10. That won't happen now. 

On the hunt for a new Netflix movie? We've rounded 30 of the best of them here. 

Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…