‘Bright’ Is Netflix’s Boldest Original Statement Yet!

You may have heard that Netflix is producing 80 original films in 2018. That’s a lot, right? It’s also a fact (says Yahoo) that 32 new Netflix original series and films are dropping in November — and a bunch more in December too. According to Business Insider, by the end of 2017 Netflix will contain over 1,000 hours of original conent.

Wow, where are we gonna find the time? More important, what can we expect? Everyone’s heard about Netflix’s many highly-anticipated series, such as The Punisher and Stranger Things 2, but are you also following the bizarre, hard-to-define original movie, Bright, by writer Max Landis and director David Ayer? You should be, because the latest trailer suggests an absolutely bizarre and tremendously funny action-adventure that looks truly unique… and possibly hints at the future of Netflix originals.

So what is Bright? Well, let me take a stab at a synopsis: A hip-hop cop drama set in East L.A…. still with me? Cool. It’s story involves the quest for a magic wand, which is best described as “a nuclear weapon that grants wishes.” Take that for juxtaposition! Oh, and the LAPD has also hired a bunch of orcs and elves right out of the Hobbit’s unemployment line, because that’s now a thing in Southern California, apparently. Plus, it stars Will Smith. Makes sense, yes?

If the preceding doesn’t get you excited for the potential of Netflix’s upcoming original content, then you might want to retreat to the relative safety and banality of basic cable and network television. Netflix is going for it, and Bright is proof that when you dump a wheelbarrow full of cash at the feet of motivated creators, damned-near-anything can happen — in a good way.

While attending the recent San Diego Comic Con, Ayer explained the freedom and support he enjoyed making Bright:

This ain’t no PG-13 studio movie. This is real sh*t… Netflix let me have my voice and they gave the actors space. This is how Netflix does their business. They asked what’s the best place to shoot this movie? It’s Los Angeles… Netflix gave me all the tools, the resources to make this movie. The environment on set felt like an independent film.”

A closer examination of the trailer suggests that under all the crazy magicky, giant swords, and Tolkien-ish creatures is an allegory about racism. Bet you didn’t see that coming. Will Smith explains:

Joel [Edgerton] plays the first Orc on the LAPD. It felt really great to be an African American police officer; they found somebody else to be racist against. I’ve never been on that side of racism when you’re black: ‘Listen, man, I don’t want no Orcs in my car!'”

Bright is definitely out there, but this is the type of original content Netflix needs to lean into when they’re up against the mega-budgets of genre-comparable films like It, Thor: Ragnarok, and The Last Jedi. Make no mistake, Bright isn’t going to stop people from seeing those blockbusters, but it’s the kind of daring filmmaking that absolutely gives Netflix the edge against the Hulus, Amazons, and CBS All-Accesses out there.

The opportunity to make films and series like Bright has drawn names like the Coens, David Fincher, and Steven Soderbergh to Netflix. The big question going forward is whether or not they can retain such talents over the long haul.

There’s an open question in Hollywood regarding the pros and cons of working with Netflix. As a creator, there’s money and freedom, but because Netflix doesn’t release their films to theaters (nor their series on networks/cable) there’s no backend participation, nor royalites or residuals. Perhaps this explains why there’ve been so many headlines about big-name filmmakers dabbling in Netflix, but not striking long-term or multi-project deals (at least thus far).

However, these are still early days in the streaming wars, things can and probably will change going forward as the various streaming eco-systems sort themselves out. In the meantime, we’re getting to see a true auteur movement via Netflix. Bright appears to be a shining example (ugh, sorry) of what’s possible when storytellers are left to their own devices. The future of original content on Netflix looks… bright? I can feel you rolling your eyes, stop it.

Humans, Orcs, Elves… everybody is just trying to get along. Get ready for the world of Bright, a new Netflix Original Film, starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton. Coming to Netflix December 22nd.

Synopsis:

Set in an alternate present-day where humans, orcs, elves, and fairies have been co-existing since the beginning of time. Bright is genre-bending action movie that follows two cops from very different backgrounds. Ward (Will Smith) and Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), embark on a routine patrol night and encounter a darkness that will ultimately alter the future and their world as they know it.

Bright is directed by David Ayer (Training Day, End of Watch, Suicide Squad) stars Will Smith (Men in Black), Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby), Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Lucy Fry (11.22.63), Edgar Ramirez (Hands of Stone, Zero Dark Thirty), Margaret Cho (Drop Dead Diva), and Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad). The movie is written by Max Landis (Chronicle) and produced by Ayer, Eric Newman (Narcos) and Bryan Unkeless (The Hunger Games).

SOURCE: Netflix, https://www.yahoo.com/news/netflix-32-original-shows-movies-coming-november-full-145319675.html, http://www.businessinsider.com/netflix-original-shows-in-2017-full-list-2017-4, http://deadline.com/2017/07/bright-david-ayer-will-smith-1202132622/