Netflix‘s strategy of releasing awards contenders in theaters for a limited run before bringing them to the small screen has proven successful so far for the streaming giant. When The Irishman was rolled out over Thanksgiving weekend, a time when many Americans apparently find themselves watching Netflix in a post-turkey food coma, it ran up 17.1 million unique views in just a week. The numbers for Marriage Story, which debuted this past weekend, have yet to be released, but if Twitter is any indication, Netflix has another big hit on its hands.
The reactions to Noah Baumbach’s six-time Golden Globe nominated feature film about the dissolution of a marriage between a celebrated playwright and his actress wife have ranged from unfettered praise of Scarlett Johansson‘s performance to criticism of her character’s monologue during her first meeting with a divorce lawyer (played by Laura Dern).
But, of course, this movie would not be a Netflix awards vehicle without some memes. It happened to The Irishman and it’s happening to Marriage Story, too. Without spoiling the film, the divorce gets a little messy and tensions between the characters run high. There’s one scene in particular, near the end of the film, in which Adam Driver and Johansson’s characters have a bleary-eyed shouting match and some regrettable things are said that can never be un-said. There is nothing ostensibly funny about this particularly emotional scene, but it almost instantly became meme fodder once Driver’s character punches the drywall after the argument (which works quite well as a reaction image to express frustration, if you’re in the market for a new one). It’s not out of the realm of possibility that this will become “the scene” that people refer to when talking about Marriage Story a decade from now.
Plus, Marriage Story and Baby Yoda confirmed the theory that two memes that co-exist side-by-side must cross over at some point for maximum impact.
Aside from the memes, this film has propped open the lid of the can of worms that has been referred to online as “the Adam Driver discourse”: basically, a debate about whether or not the actor is “hot.” His stature, the timbre of his voice, and his asymmetrical visage are all now under scrutiny.
Wherever you fall on the question of his attractiveness, one thing’s for sure: a short king, he is not.
So, what does all of this—the memes, the twitter reaction, the endless social media chatter—even mean? Will this now be norm for any big Netflix movie with an auteur filmmaker and A-list cast? Considering the The Irishman—and the fact that we could probably trace this phenomenon back to last year’s sci-fi thriller Bird Box— the answer is probably yes. Three is a trend…