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A Huge Denzel Washington Flop Is Getting A Second Life On Netflix

One of Denzel Washington's biggest flops is getting a second life on Netflix. The actor's star power is unmatched — his fanbase and clout helped the Equalizer franchise gross over $500 million worldwide, with plenty of other hits proving he's a major draw for audiences. Despite that, Washington suffered a major blow in 2021 with "The Little Things." The crime thriller (which cost $30 million) grossed a meager $29 million upon release. Viewers are investigating the film now, however. "The Little Things" is the No. 1 film on Netflix. The John Lee Hancock-directed film, which co-stars Rami Malek and Jared Leto, is besting the likes of "Baby Driver" and the underrated 2016 action flick "The Accountant" on the streaming service. 

"The Little Things" was dead on arrival thanks to poor reception from critics. The detective drama has a mediocre 45% on Rotten Tomatoes, though general viewers were more forgiving, giving it a 67% audience score. Xoop sister site /Film awarded the film a 6.5/10, with critic Chris Evangelista particularly enthused by Washington's turn as Joe Deacon. "He's played this sort of role before, and he can probably do it in his sleep at this point, but that doesn't make him any less enjoyable to watch," Evangelista wrote. 

Viewers on Letterboxd, the film-centric social media site, gave the release an average star rating of 2.6/5. The user reviews for the flop are particularly snarky, with Ethan Ethan writing, "I feel like everyone involved was forced into being a part of this. Except Jared Leto." 

Why did Denzel Washington's The Little Things flop?

On paper, "The Little Things" is the perfect mid-budget film that's supposed to capture an adult audience. The picture follows detectives Deacon and Jim (Rami Malek) in '90s-era Los Angeles as they investigate grizzly murders. Things get complicated when they believe the strange Albert (Jared Leto) is responsible for the deaths. Despite an all-star cast filled with Oscar winners, "The Little Things" didn't have the opportunity to shine in multiplexes. The flick was part of Warner Bros.' poorly received 2021 initiative to boost subscribers for Max (formerly, HBO Max), the studio's streaming service. 

"The Little Things" was released on Max and theaters on the same day, with viewers able to watch the film on the streaming service for one month. With the flop easily accessible with a subscription, everyone decided to watch Washington's psychological thriller at home. But seeing as the film received a tepid reception from critics, it's hard to imagine "The Little Things" grossing more than $30-$45 million domestically if it received an exclusive theatrical release. Stateside, the film only made $15 million thanks to its muted run.  

While "The Little Things" stands out as one of Washington's worst roles, it's great that it's receiving a second life. The large viewership clearly shows that audiences are eager for mature, inexpensive fare that prioritizes star power and narrative over spectacle, even if the final result isn't perfect.