One of Netflix's biggest movies won't get a sequel – for a surprising reason

Ryan Reynolds starred in Netflix original movie 6 Underground
(Image credit: Netflix)

6 Underground, the 2019 action-adventure film that launched exclusively on Netflix, isn't getting a follow-up, according to the studio's Head of Original Movies.

In a lengthy profile piece published by Variety, Scott Stuber revealed that the Ryan Reynolds-starring flick won't receive a sequel.

Singling 6 Underground out as a movie that failed to live up to expectations, Stuber revealed that, ultimately, the film wasn't developed and produced in a way that allowed audiences to connect with it.

“We didn’t feel like we got there on that one creatively,” Stuber admitted. “It was a nice hit, but at the end of the day we didn’t feel like we nailed the mark to justify coming back again. There just wasn’t that deep love for those characters or that world.”

Directed by Michael Bay (Transformers, The Island), 6 Underground starred Reynolds as Magnet S. Johnson, a billionaire who fakes his own death and leads a group of mercenaries to overthrow a brutalist government in the fictional city of Turgistan.

Netflix had high hopes for the film ahead of its December 2019 release date but, despite its charismatic lead and $150 million budget, 6 Underground was panned by critics and fans alike, and currently holds a 36% critical rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.

Analysis: Netflix is getting selective about which of its movies deserve sequels

An action shot in the Netflix original movie 6 Underground

(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix appears to be taking a more selective approach to greenlighting sequels within its original movies line up.

Per a July 2021 article from Insider, 6 Underground is the fifth most-watched original film in Netflix's back catalog. 

According to the report, 83 million users tuned in to watch 6 Underground in the first four weeks of its release – a number that's only bettered by Mark Walhberg's Spenser Confidential, Sandra Bullock's Bird Box and Chris Hemsworth's Extraction.

However, unlike 6 Underground, Netflix original movies such as The Old Guard and Enola Holmes, with 78 million and 76 million viewers respectively, are getting follow-up films. 

Both movies were better received and cost less than 6 Underground, too. The Old Guard was made for $70 million and has an 80% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while Enola Holmes cost a reported $20 million and holds a 91% rating.

It seems, then, that viewing figures aren't the primary factor behind Netflix's decision to make sequels for its most-watched films. Critical reception and budget seem to be playing a role that's just as big, if not a more important one, when the streamer decides which properties will get follow-ups.

Of course, Netflix's viewing figures can be misleading. The streaming giant's audience numbers are defined as anyone who watches at least two minutes of a movie or TV show. This means that it counts viewers who, say, may have turned 6 Underground off after 15 minutes if they think it's going to make for a rubbish watch.

The one outlier in all of this is the Will Smith-starring fantasy film Bright. Despite its universal panning (Bright has a 28% critical rating) and a budget estimated to be around $100 million, Netflix has greenlit a sequel. 

Upon its release in 2017, reports suggested that it had pulled in just 11 million viewers in the first 72 hours post-release. Admittedly, Netflix's user base was smaller back then, but it still pales in comparison to other Netflix original films.

It seems, then, that Netflix doesn't totally rely on audience numbers to dictate which of its movies will get sequels. If it did, 6 Underground would be a shoe-in for another outing.

Cost, critical reception and, perhaps most importantly, creating a suitable follow-up story with relatable characters are vital for Netflix to sign off on a sequel. Given that 6 Underground struggled to combine these elements effectively, it's unsurprising that it isn't getting a sequel.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

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