Lately, Netflix seems to be dominating the streaming charts when it comes to true crime and thriller TV series, with their latest show, The Watchercontinuing the trend.
Currently # 1 on Netflix in the US as of today, The Watcher tells the true story of Nora and Dean Bannock, who move into their dream home in New Jersey. However, they are soon harassed by letters signed by a stalker named “The Watcher.”
Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, the series is based on the the Cut article “The Watcher” by Reeves Wiedeman from 2018. The Watcher marks the second article from the Cut that has been turned into a Netflix show this year – the first being the Shonda Rhimes – produced series Inventing Anna.
In its first five days of streaming on Netflix, The Watcher has reportedly seen 125 million hours of viewing. In comparison, Dahmer received 196.2 million hours of viewing in its first five days.
Already, the show is proving to be a big win for Netflix, a streamer that struggled earlier this year when it came to growing and keeping its subscribers, and proves that all of the money Netflix reportedly paid for the rights to the story was worth it .
In 2018, Netflix won a contentious bidding war for the rights of The Watcher and, at the time, it was slated to be a film. According to Deadline, Netflix seemingly paid “seven figures” for “the rights package,” which included the original the Cut article and “the rights of the beleaguered homeowners who’ve lived this nightmare for four years.”
At the time, a number of notable film and TV producers wanted to acquire the rights, with one horror producer reportedly offering to buy the house at 657 Boulevard in hopes of using it as a set, according to the Cut.
Now, while the exact amount the Broadduses made isn’t public knowledge, one neighbor claims they heard that the family “pocketed close to $ 10 million.” But, in reality, the amount they received apparently didn’t even cover the losses they endured on the now-famous house.
In 2019, nearly five years after the Broaddus family paid more than $ 1.35 million for the home, they put it back on the market and sold it for $ 959,000. The Cut estimates that they lost $ 400,000, even before factoring in the agents’ cut, “$ 100,000 in property taxes,” and bills for utilities and more.
Now, similar to other subjects of true crime TV shows, the Broaddus family originally had “little interest” in selling the rights to their story. However, after Lifetime released The Watcher in 2016, without consulting the family and with a lot of changes to the story, the family decided being involved this time around was the right call.
By selling the rights to their story to Netflix, the Broadduses got some control when it came to the creation of the series, which is when they requested that two changes be made when it was adapted for TV.
According to the Cut, the first request the family made was that the show – or, at the time, the movie – not use their real names, which is why Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale’s characters are named Nora and Dean Brannock, instead of Maria and Derek Broaddus.
The next request also involved their family’s depiction on screen. They asked the producers to make sure that the family in the series look as little like theirs in real life as possible. In the show, Nora and Dean have two kids, whereas in real life, the Broaddus family has three children.
While these are apparently the only concrete requests the family had when it came to The Watcher getting made, the show obviously exaggerates other details. However, the writers did include real text from the letters that the Broaddus family received.
Now, the inevitable next question is: Did the Broadduses watch The Watcher? The answer is they reportedly have “no plans to watch the show,” adding that the trailer was “traumatizing enough.”
You can read the original the Cut article from 2018 here and the recent follow-up story here.