Bright: Netflix greenlights sequel to Will Smith-starrer despite being ripped apart by critics

With a sequel, Netflix hopes to turn Bright into its first film franchise — the kind Hollywood studios rely on.

FP Staff January 04, 2018 14:30:11 IST
Bright: Netflix greenlights sequel to Will Smith-starrer despite being ripped apart by critics

Despite scathing reviews from critics, Netflix has greenlit a sequel to Bright, with star Will Smith and director David Ayer expected to return.

The streaming service announced the plans on Wednesday, just two weeks after the fantasy police drama debuted. Bright is Netflix's first big-budget, tentpole-style release, with estimates that it cost at least $90 million to produce.

Bright Netflix greenlights sequel to Will Smithstarrer despite being ripped apart by critics

Netflix has announced a sequel to Bright, with star Smith and director David Ayer expected to return. AP

With a sequel, Netflix hopes to turn Bright into its first film franchise — the kind Hollywood studios rely on. But it will be doing so with one of the worst reviewed films of 2017. Bright has garnered just a 28 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes despite featuring the key ingredients of a Hollywood blockbuster: an A-list actor, an experienced director, and special effects that light up the screen during shootouts and car chases.

The film stars Smith as a police officer in an alternate version of Los Angeles where orcs, fairies and magic co-exist. Yes, really!

Yet viewer data suggests Bright is a hit — or, at least, a Netflix version of one. According to a report on Variety, Nielsen reported that 11 million watched Bright in the United States in the first three days release. If that many moviegoers had paid tickets for Bright, it would have earned close to $100 million over its first weekend, if going by the average movie ticket price. And Nielsen's tabulation is based on TV-connected Netflix viewing, and doesn't include those watching on their phones or computers.

Netflix doesn't release viewing numbers, but it said Bright has been its most viewed movie in all of Netflix's 190-plus countries. It called Bright its highest viewed original film ever in its first week of release. It was subtitled in 26 languages and dubbed in nine of them.

By releasing the movie to the company’s 109 million streaming customers around the world to watch at home, Netflix delivered a Michael Bay-type blockbuster — one that is loved by the public but panned by the critics.

But you can't possibly blame the critics as that old Hollywood standby, the venerable buddy cop movie, met its anguished demise during holiday season. And what made it worse was it died at the hands of Will Smith. Director David Ayer has had a role in other buddy cop films, helming End of Watch and writing Training Day. This, though, is a labored affair with little stylistic coherence.

Virtually every permutation of the genre has been done — we've seen black cops teamed up with white cops, black cops with black cops, white cops and other white cops, a white cop and a Latino cop, an Irish cop with a Yank cop, two women cops, and human cops with dog cops.

Alas, the category did not survive the latest: a human cop teamed up with an Orc. Yes, that's right — an Orc, along with Elves, Fairies and at least one Centaur. Even with Smith being his most charming singular Smith, Bright was a total mess. To prepare for writing Bright, it seems Max Landis decided to throw every cop film cliche into a Cuisinart, put it on the high setting and leave the top off.

But the Netflix model relies on today’s internet-ready TVs and surround sound systems to provide a theater-quality experience at home. And the subscribers continue to stream the critically panned film. So, Netflix announced the sequel with a mock audition tape from various orcs hoping to land a role in the follow-up.

Along with Smith, co-star Joel Edgerton is also set to return. One person not coming back is screenwriter Max Landis, whose original script sparked a bidding war. Ayer will write the sequel.

With inputs from agencies

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