In the News

The Hollywood Reporter

Ava DuVernay’s ‘When They See Us’ Seen by 23 Million, Netflix Says

By Rick Porter

June 26, 2019

The filmmaker says she cried after hearing how many people the limited series about the Central Park Five had reached.

Netflix’s limited series When They See Us has pulled in a sizable audience since its May 31 release, according to figures from the streaming giant.

Ava DuVernay, creator of the series about the men at the center of the Central Park Five case, wrote Tuesday on Twitter that more than 23 million Netflix accounts worldwide had watched at least some of the series, a number Netflix has confirmed. DuVernay wrote that she cried after hearing the numbers: “Imagine believing the world doesn’t care about real stories of black people. It always made me sad. So when Netflix just shared with me that 23M+ accounts worldwide have watched #WhenTheySeeUs, I cried. Our stories matter and can move across the globe. A new truth for a new day.”

The 23 million figure would put When They See Us on par with the documentary series Our Planet, which Netflix said in April was on track to be viewed by 25 million member accounts in its first month. The company doesn’t release precise viewership figures for its shows, but Netflix has begun sharing select bits of its proprietary data to highlight what it says are strong performers.

The streamer has said, for instance, that The Umbrella Academy was seen by 45 million member accounts worldwide in its first month, and that 40 million accounts viewed Sex Education and You in a similar time frame. A “view” in Netflix parlance is 70 percent of one episode of a series or 70 percent of a film.

When They See Us has also been the second most-watched series on Netflix in the U.K. since its release, the company said, trailing only Black Mirror.

When They See Us follows the lives of Kevin Richardson (Asante Blackk and Justin Cunningham as the adult Kevin), Antron McCray (Caleel Harris and Jovan Adepo), Yusef Salaam (Ethan Herisse and Chris Chalk), Korey Wise (Jharrel Jerome) and Raymond Santana (Marquis Rodriguez and Freddy Miyares), who were accused of sexually assaulting a woman in New York’s Central Park in 1989 and wrongfully convicted. DNA evidence and a confession from the real perpetrator in 2002 led to their exoneration, after all five had served prison terms.

DuVernay created, directed and co-wrote the four-episode series with Julian Breece, Robin Swicord, Attica Locke and Michael Starrbury.

Starrbury is repped by attorney Rob Szymanski.