Infographic of the Day: Who’s Renting What (and Where) on Netflix?

The suburbs love Jim Carrey and couldn’t care less about movie critics. The cities love movie critics, Mad Men, and Woody Allen.


Sometimes, infographics and data confound our stereotypes. And other times, they just reinforce them. Case in point: The movies that people rent.


The New York Times has just published an amazingly detailed infographic, showing the most popular Netflix rentals by zipcode.

You can view movies by straight up most popular–and also see exactly where critically lauded/loathed movies are rented most. The overarching lesson: Cities love thinky dramas praised by critics; the suburbs and exurbs like slapstick and Will Smith. For example, let’s look at a city such as Atlanta, which has a fairly precise city/suburb division. Here’s the popularity of Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona:

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

And here’s the popularity of Yes Man, starring Jim Carrey:

Yes Man

That same trend bears itself out in other cities. Dallas, for example. Here’s Bedtime Stories, starring Adam Sandler:

Bedtime Stories

Vicky Cristina Barcelona:

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

And the Seth Rogan stoner comedy Pineapple Express:

Pineapple Express

Now, there’s probably a few things going on here–for one, you’ve got the pretensions/tastes of cityslicker versus suburban audiences. And that might be the biggest factor. What you see, time and time again, is that the audience for small, independent movies is most intense in the cities; the only critical successes that hit everybody are blockbusters such as Dark Knight. Meanwhile, the audience for low-budget groaners is overwhelmingly suburban. Both snobs and Rush Limbaugh fans can make of that what they will.

But it’s worth bearing in mind an underlying factor in all this: Who’s got the kids. City folk have less of them, and they also rent more challenging fare. Suburbanites have more of them, and the kids really do seem to love Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey.


Which might mean: You really better think twice before having kids (or double your Netflix subscription and number of TVs and bedrooms and income…).

For more another infographics take on the strange tastes of cities, click here.

For more Infographics of the Day, click here.

About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.