‘The Watcher’: The Real Family Had Only 2 Requests About the Netflix Dramatization of Their Story
Netflix’s new true crime drama, The Watcher, is based on a true story, but the real family wanted nothing to do with the series. Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale portray Nora and Dean Brannock, who purchase their sprawling dream home at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey. However, things quickly turn when they receive threatening letters from someone claiming to be “the watcher” of the 100-year-old house. The real family behind the true story of The Watcher never lived in the home, and they had only two special requests to the Netflix producers when they recreated the drama.
Who is the real family behind the true story of ‘The Watcher?’
In 2014, Derek and Maria Broaddus purchased the six-bedroom house at 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey. They had three children who were five, eight, and 10 at the time. Derek grew up in Maine and worked his way up in an insurance company in Manhattan. He became senior vice president and bought the $1.35 million home right after he turned 40.
They received the first letter from the watcher three days after closing on the home. Derek and Maria had begun some home renovations before moving in, but after receiving three disturbing letters, they never lived at 657 Boulevard.
The Broaddus family sold the house at a loss in 2019. According to an update from The Cut, the new family has not received any threatening letters.
‘The Watcher’: The real family had only two requests about the Netflix true-crime drama
The real family did not want The Watcher story to head to Hollywood, but they already had one negative experience with a network adapting it without their permission. (In 2016, Lifetime produced a movie called The Watcher, but it had enough “artistic license” that the Broaduses couldn’t do anything to stop it).
So, this time, the family signed over the rights of The Watcher story to Netflix with only two conditions and one suggestion. This way, they would at least have some say in the final product. The Broaduses wanted their names changed and the family to look nothing like them. The last suggestion noted that they wouldn’t mind if the fictional house burned down in the end.
How much did the real family make from selling the rights to ‘The Watcher?’
Neighbors of 657 Boulevard speculated that the Broaduses took home close to $10 million for the rights to The Watcher. Deadline reported that Netflix won the intense bidding war over the story. Six studios fought it out, so the family must have made a killing, right?
Sadly, the money they made from selling the story didn’t cover the losses on the house. The Cut reported that the Broaduses bought their dream home for $1.35 million in 2014 but sold it for only $959,000 in 2019. They lost approximately $400,000, so Netflix paid the family below that number.
For comparison, Netflix paid Anna Sorokin (Delvey) $320,000 for the rights to her story. So, the Broaduses probably made somewhere in that ballpark. Although the money from the story helped the family, it didn’t even touch the expenses the Broadduses incurred from paying $100,000 in property taxes, bills for utilities, home insurance, renovations, and private investigators — all for a home they never lived in.
Derek Broaddus does not plan to view The Watcher. He added that the trailer caused him enough stress.
All seven episodes of The Watcher are available for streaming on Netflix.