Even before it took home Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite had proven to be a true phenomenon unlike any foreign language film we’ve seen in recent memory. The dark drama has made $266 million to date at the global box office, which no doubt made distributors curious how the lauded film would perform in the streaming world. And after one week on Hulu, we now have our answer: Parasite remains a rare phenomenon indeed. In just 7 days, Bong’s film has been shattering streaming records for the service, defying all expectations to become the second most-watched film on the entire service.
Of all the titles available on Hulu, Parasite has easily claimed the title of the most streamed independent or foreign language film that Hulu has ever possessed. But even when taking the numbers outside the restricted field of “foreign language film,” Parasite is now reportedly the second most-watched movie overall on Hulu, and that’s in terms of LIFETIME VIEWS. That means Parasite, in a single week, has been streamed more times than other popular films that have been available on Hulu for months, including blockbusters like A Quiet Place, Transformers: The Last Knight or Creed II. A South Korean psychological drama has been watched more times than all of those films, which is something special indeed for the film Paste chose as its #1 movie of 2019.
We can point to a few obvious possibilities for why Parasite has done such massive numbers in only a week of streaming, since debuting on Hulu on April 8. The Oscar bump, obviously, is a factor, as many Americans likely hadn’t heard of Parasite at all until it very publicly became the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture (and Best Director and Screenplay) at the Oscars. Then there’s our current social distancing lifestyles, which has people staying indoors and rates of streaming consumption rising to all-time highs. This is a unique moment in the history of our entertainment culture, and many viewers are apparently using it to catch up on their critically acclaimed watch list. All of this has no doubt benefited Parasite, which will also debut in the Criterion Collection later in 2020.
Hulu clearly knows how valuable Parasite now is to the service, and has attracted positive attention for going to bat for the film against online trolls and racists who have publicly been complaining about the spotlight that has been granted to Bong Joon-ho’s drama. In response to one user who claimed “It’s not in English, no one wants to watch a movie that they literally have to read to understand what’s going on,” Hulu leveled the following riposte: “If you don’t want to read subtitles, you can always learn Korean!” Check out that Twitter exchange below, and go check out Parasite for yourself.