Did Controversy Help or Hinder Lifetime's Aaliyah Movie? The Ratings Are Here!

Ratings for the Lifetime flick are good—Was it watching or just hate-watching?

By Chris Harnick Nov 17, 2014 9:11 PMTags
Aaliyah Movie, Alexandra ShippLifetime/Christos Kalohoridis

Despite backlash, plenty of viewers tuned in for Lifetime's Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B TV movie. The controversial biopic, which featured Alexandra Shipp in the title role, had more than 3 million viewers on Saturday night. Were they watching or hate-watching?

Lifetime's Aaliyah flick had 3.2 million viewers and 1.7 million adults in the 18-49 demographic. EW reports the movie is Lifetime's No. 2 movie of the year in the 18-49 demographic after Flowers in the Attic. The movie also featured Elise Neal as Gladys Knight, Clé Bennett as R. Kelly and Chattrisse Dolabaille as Missy Elliott.

Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B hailed from executive producer Wendy Williams and was ripe with controversy. First star Zendaya dropped out of the movie after her casting was announced, with sources citing production concerns after the movie was not able to secure the rights to the star's songs.

The movie received a bevy of backlash when it actually aired, with viewers citing the relationship portrayed between R. Kelly and Aaliyah as problematic and the portrayal of other key figures. Timbaland took to social media to address the movie. "Hope yall not watching this!!!!!!!!" he said, and added, "People! Thanks for the comments tonight on that bulls--t Aliyah movie! They have felt Timbo's wrath tonight, baby!"

Producer Williams seemed pleased with the movie and perceived it a success. "I see my Aaliyah movie broke the Internet this weekend! Errbody got an opinion," she said on her daytime talk show. "Well, I must tell you, whether you loved or hate, you watched. It was the second-highest rated movie on all of cable this year so far."

This is just the latest Lifetime movie about Hollywood figures to ruffle feathers. This year the network aired a Saved by the Bell movie and one about the late Brittany Murphy.