The Most Popular Movie Of 2022 Probably Isn’t What You Think

The popular movie-center social media platform Letterboxd names The Batman as the most popular movie of 2022.

By Michileen Martin | Published

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According to Letterboxd, ticket sales and popularity aren’t necessarily the same thing. Matt Reeves’ The Batman made a nice chunk of change at the box office, but it didn’t come close to record breakers like Top Gun: Maverick or Avatar: The Way of Water. Regardless, Letterboxd named The Batman the most popular movie of 2022, based on “the volume of community activity” on the site.

Letterboxd says they based their pick for the most popular movie of the year on things like “lists, likes, logs and noise” around the movies. Along with listing the top 10 most popular movies of the year, the site also broke it down by month; announcing which movie was on top for every month of 2022. The Batman proved to not only be the most popular flick of 2022 overall, but the top movie in March (unsurprising, since it released March 4).

It’s interesting to note the differences between box office receipts and what Letterboxd reports are the most popular movies of 2022. According to the Top 10 biggest global box office earners, as reported by Box Office Mojo, 3 of the top 5 films — Avatar: The Way of Water, Minions: The Rise of Gru, and Jurassic World: Dominion — are nowhere on Letterboxd’s list. Meanwhile Top Gun: Maverick, which was narrowly beaten out of the top box office spot by Avatar 2, only reaches #5 on Letterboxd’s ranking.

Reasons for the discrepancies likely aren’t very mysterious. For example, the target audience for Minions: The Rise of Gru likely doesn’t have a lot of crossover with the users of Letterboxd, which would explain its absence from the most popular movie list.

Then, of course, there’s the recurring question of theatrical vs. streaming releases. Almost all of the films on Letterboxd’s Top Ten most popular movies list — the only exception being Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, which had only a limited theatrical release before streaming on Netflix — enjoyed wide theatrical releases. However, the space between their theatrical and streaming debuts were a lot different in some cases.

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Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)

For example, in the case of Letterboxd’s most popular movie, The Batman was streaming on HBO Max 45 days after its theatrical release. In contrast, Top Gun: Maverick hit theaters at the end of May and didn’t begin streaming on Paramount+ until December. With more time to view from the comfort of their own living rooms, more people were exposed to Reeves’ film than the Top Gun sequel.

The monthly breakdowns bear out just how much streaming impacted whether or not a film would make Letterboxd’s most popular movie list. For example in spite of bowing in theaters in December 2021, Letterboxd lists Guillermo del Toro‘s Nightmare Alley as the most popular movie of February 2022 — the same month it began streaming on Hulu and HBO Max. Likewise the horror film Barbarian had its wide theatrical release in September, but it’s in October — the month it hit HBO Max — that it topped the monthly most popular tally.