Netflix Queues Hightlight Social, Political, Racial Divides

The New York Times has a great interactive map up that matches the popularity of various top rentals at Netflix (s NFLX) against different area codes in 12 major metropolitan areas. And while some of the information seems obvious — The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is popular everywhere, Cadillac Records not so much — it’s interesting to look at some of the top 100 videos and see what they say about the areas where they’re being rented.

Take Mad Men: Season 1, for example. The discs are popular in New York, as might be expected for a series set in the city and taking place in the advertising industry in the 1960s. While it shows up in the Top 10 rentals in some areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn, it appears no one in Miami is really that interested in watching advertising execs boozing and gallivanting around town with their mistresses.

How about Milk? The movie is all over the place in San Francisco, as should be expected from the town where Harvey Milk became the first openly gay elected official. But Milk isn’t as popular in Dallas, or more specifically, the Dallas suburbs, as the pictures below show.

Netflix queues also highlight some interesting social trends. Blockbuster films didn’t rate as well as you might expect in the urban center of certain cities. Check out this comparison of the popularity of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in Atlanta vs. Boston.

Finally, it’s interesting to see how movies which have appeal along racial lines might perform in different regions. For instance, the thriller Obsessed, which stars Idris Elba and Beyoncee Knowles, was panned by critics, but has found interest in urban areas of certain cities. Compare, for instance, the reception of the film in sections of Washington, D.C. vs. Seattle.