As the ubiquitous “Wednesday” and mighty “Harry and Meghan” continue to dominate in series viewership on Netflix, a nonfiction film is breaking through in a surprising way: “The Volcano: Rescue from Whakaari.”
Ranked as the number one film in the U.S on Wednesday, filmmaker Rory Kennedy directs the tense story of 47 tourists and guides trapped by a volcanic eruption off the coast of New Zealand in December of 2019. Through firsthand accounts, Kennedy retraces the event minute-by-minute, demonstrating mother nature’s power and the kindness of strangers in equal parts.
Breaking into the official Netflix Global Top 10 this week, “The Volcano” hit number one in countries including the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and much of Europe on Wednesday. It’s a notable performance often dominated by Netflix originals and holiday content. One source familiar with Netflix noted how rare it was for a documentary feature to make this kind of noise around the world, comparing it to heavyweights like “The Tinder Swindler,” “Ghislaine Maxwell: Filthy Rich,” and “The Redeem Team,” about the U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball team.
The film is the second recent collaboration between the streamer and Kennedy. She previously directed “Downfall: The Case Against Boeing,” about the terrifying crashes caused by software glitches in the Boeing 737 Max. “Volcano” hails from Imagine Documentaries, Moxie Films, and Appian Way (Leonardo DiCaprio’s production entity). Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Jennifer Davisson, Dicaprio, and Phillip Watson are executive producers. Alex Perry served as co-executive producer
The project was written by Mark Bailey and Dallas Brennan Rexer, and boasts an original score from Hans Zimmer. Bailey, Kennedy, and Rexer produced the project with Imagine Docs chiefs Sara Bernstein and Justin Wilkes.