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Jeruba's avatar

How many copies of Citizen Kane do you suppose NetFlix has?

Asked by Jeruba (48169points) April 26th, 2010

This film is regarded as one of the all-time greats. It has a chapter all to itself in my Intro. to Film textbook. It turns up faithfully on compilations of “100 greatest movies” and is invariably recommended on must-see lists. So how many copies do you think an outfit like NetFlix would have to have on hand in order to keep up with actual demand? Two? Twenty? Two hundred?

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17 Answers

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

I’m sure it is completely eclipsed by the number on Avatar copies they have on hand right now.

I’d like to think that the demand for Citizen Kane would put their inventory well above 1000.
Then again, when was the last time you and your friends got together on Friday night, drank some beer, and watched Citizen Kane?

It’s just not where the money is.

Blackberry's avatar

Call them? ^^b

frdelrosario's avatar

How many compilers of the greatest lists, or those who said it was must see didn’t see the movie, do you reckon?

I’ve never managed to watch Citizen Kane all the way through, which sorta helps me to think that some of those film pundits who so strongly recommend it are just afraid to go against the well-established course.

I reached into the air for Netflix’s copies on hand, and got “5”.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’m in agreement with @Captain_Fantasy, films like Avatar (which was fun for one visit) probably will be in people’s memories forever while Citizen Kane (one of our families’ holiday gathering favorites) gets a common, “huh?”. Netflix confuses me at times when I wait for movies to become available I thought were good while they bombard my e-mail inbox to inform me of the arrival of more substandard Jennifer Aniston movies.

jaytkay's avatar

I guess Netflix has 1,000 copies of Citizen Kane.

Without using Google or any other resource, and assuming the potential audience is only the 300 million people in the US, here is how I guess.

—300 million people
—4 people per household so 75 million households
—5% subscribe to Netflix so 3.75 million
—2% of them will rent Citizen Kane in their lives so 75,000
—1% of them will rent Citizen Kane this week, so 750
—Make it 1,000 to for lost, damaged disks and people who hold the disk more than a week

cfrydj's avatar

I’ve seen it 4 times. But I own it.

Avatar will not have any re-watch value. Unless you have a 3-D IMAX home theatre system. Once it’s just acting and script…ouch.

CMaz's avatar

Citizen Kane has depth.

Avatar was just a great story.

Jeruba's avatar

I admire your process of reasoning, @jaytkay. This is just the kind of speculation that I was looking for: weighing a lot of factors to come up with a reasonable guess (even if wildly wrong, as it might be, it is reasonable). I’m more interested in the thought process than in the actual answer.

What prompted the question is the fact that everybody in my film class (about 60 people) has to watch Citizen Kane in time for a class discussion in May. I was considering how far in advance I might have to order it from NetFlix to avoid running into a delay. That caused me to wonder how many copies they might actually have and what a normal demand might be.

I think I’ll order it now.

jaytkay's avatar

@Jeruba Of course now I’m curious if I’m even close, and can’t Google the answer.

From their annual report I did find they have 12+ million subscribers, so I’m 3.2X too low on that point.

And a Chicago Tribune article seems to say a single Netflix warehouse (out of 58) has “15,000 copies of ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’”, which must have been a new release.

Jeruba's avatar

I drive past the NetFlix building on my way to the orthopedist in Los Gatos. More than once I have been tempted to stop in and just ask, “Can I see where you keep the discs?” Maybe instead I’ll walk in and ask them how many copies of Citizen Kane they have. (And if I can see them.) Anybody want to come with me on this adventure?

roundsquare's avatar

Sounds like an interview question.

@jaytkay‘s answer is probably what an interviewer would want.

Jeruba's avatar

Interview, @roundsquare? What do you mean? Who interviewing whom?

roundsquare's avatar

@Jeruba There are some companies that like to see you squirm/think during interviews and so ask questions like this to see how your mind works. They ask questions like “how much money does the fast food place down the street make a year?” or “how many light bulbs are sold is Australia on a daily basis.” This reminds me of one of those.

I had an interview once where I was pretending to consult for a company that makes some kind of detergent and was losing business. I had to come up with a way for it to make more money.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks, @roundsquare. I wouldn’t have thought of this as one of those (maybe because I meant it literally and asked out of curiosity), but now I know what you mean. I always used to ask a grammar question when interviewing writers and editors and listened to their process of reasoning. They didn’t have to get it right, but they did have to have a well-founded and rational approach to it.

roundsquare's avatar

@Jeruba What kind of grammar questions would you ask? I’m curious to see what kinds of things would come up.

Last time I studied anything called grammar was in a computer science context, where you define a “grammar” for a certain context. That was a very formalized grammar though so I haven’t studied real life grammar in a long long time.

Jeruba's avatar

Oh, I had two or three favorites. One was a simple agreement of subject and verb that for some reason trips a lot of people. One involved a dangling modifier, as I recall. I’ve forgotten the other one. This was standard English grammar and not something to do with an artificial language as for software. A little grammatical knowledge shouldn’t be too much to ask of people positioning themselves as professional writers and editors.

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