Netflix makes history with Will Smith-starrer Bright
TOKYO — The Will Smith buddy cop action-fantasy flick Bright — which premiered globally on Netflix on Dec. 22 — has made history as the first Hollywood film of its magnitude to skip theatrical release over streaming platform for simultaneous viewing by more than 100 million people worldwide.
And despite mixed reviews from critics, audiences loved it that Netflix has greenlit a sequel.
At Bright’s press conference at Tokyo’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel are (from left) director David Ayer, actors Noomi Rapace, Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, and producers Eric Newman and Bryan Unkeless.
“No movie of this size has ever hit the world the way it has — 190 countries in every language known,” said its director David Ayer, who is reunited with Smith after last summer’s global blockbuster Suicide Squad. “And people are gonna see it at the same moment around the world, so it really is history.”
Producers Eric Newman and Bryan Unkeless said Netflix’s latest venture aims to offer new options for filmmakers to tell a story and for viewers to watch a major motion picture within the confines of their homes, and not to rival theatrical experience or put the theaters out of business.
“What Netflix wants to provide is virtually limitless supply of content that can co-exist with Star Wars or Pixar or Marvel movies,” said Newman. Official reports claim subscription to Netflix continues to grow by leaps and bounds with the number of subscribers reaching 110 million as of December 2017.
Bright held the last of its series of international red carpet premieres at the Roppongi Hills Arena in this Japanese capital on Dec. 20, with hundreds of fans braving the freezing temperature outside to meet the cast led by the two-time Academy Award nominee Smith and his co-stars Joel Edgerton and Noomi Rapace.
Set in the present day Los Angeles in which elves and orcs and other supernatural beings co-exist with the humans — although not harmoniously, Bright chronicles the adventures of two LAPD officers (Smith as Officer Ward and Edgerton as Officer Jakoby). Battling their personal differences and an onslaught of enemies, they must work together to protect the young elf, Tikka (Lucy Fry), who is in possession of a magic wand with untold power that could destroy everything, that is being pursued by the lethal renegade elf Leilah (Rapace). Only a Bright, a specially trained expert with supernatural abilities, can control the power of the wand.
According to the filmmakers, working with Netflix was “incredibly liberating” as they were given “absolute creative freedom,” enormous budget and “support.”
In return, they believe they have come up with a nearly two-hour movie that is not only packed with remarkable action scenes and visual effects, but also a social conscience focusing on racial bias and discrimination mirroring the present day society.
In Bright, the elves are on top of the racial hierarchy, with the humans in the middle, and the orcs at the bottom.
“My character is a human police officer who is racist against orcs,” said Smith.
“And my character is an elf who is racist against humans and orcs,” Rapace remarked.
“And I love the responsibility of playing the one who represents everybody who is judged, bullied and mistreated,” said Edgerton, “when all they (orcs) wanted is to be judged by their actions and not by the color of their skin.”
“There is an underlying thing in the movie about how we treat one another,” Smith pointed out, “how we bully each other…and how two different people became friends in the middle of this really dark world.”
“Bright points out a weakness in our society and the time we’re living now,” said Rapace. “We quickly judge each other. We easily put a stamp on things and that is dangerous. We should be more tolerant and accepting of each other and try to find a way to live in harmony.”
“We do not build walls or borders and tell others to stick on the other side and we’ll stay on this side,” she added. “Bright is a movie people can watch several times and still discover new things.”
Written by Max Landis, Ayer said the racial issue was all in the script lying beneath a fantasy world.
“Maybe I brought it out a little bit more because sadly there’s too many divisions in our world and not everybody can follow their dreams because of their color or how they look like,” Ayer explained.
“That’s not correct,” he said.
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