It’s a police procedural. It’s high fantasy. It’s even an urban fantasy. And a supernatural action movie. That’s a heckuva mash-up.
It’s Bright, a new movie starring Will Smith. Although this kind of fantasy tale has appeared in novels, we haven’t seen this story on the big screen. Maybe Highlander? Defiance? On paper it looks like the science fiction classic Alien Nation and the short-lived Karl Urban series Almost Human–except the lead cop, played by Will Smith here, is not partners with an alien but an–wait for it–an Orc. That’s an Orc–those typically vile fantasy bad guys from Middle Earth–played by Joel Edgerton, the co-star of last year’s brilliant film Midnight Special (and you know him as young Uncle Owen from the Star Wars prequels). And it has the look of John Carpenter’s They Live (official images of the Orc makeup have not yet been released for publication).
That’s right. We’re talking fantasy, not science fiction, other than the parallel Earth. The setting for Bright is a parallel universe Los Angeles where Humans, Orcs, Fairies, and Elves have lived and co-existed throughout our history. It’s good ol’ classic fantasy, so there’s an epic quest for a talisman–a wand–a powerful and illegal wand, and the two LAPD cops are searching for it as they protect a female Elf. And Will Smith gets to wield a sword.
Bright is directed by David Ayer (director of Suicide Squad, Fury, Street Kings, and writer for Training Day, The Fast and the Furious) and written by Max Landis (Victor Frankenstein, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency), with co-stars Noomi Rapace (Alien: Covenant, Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Edgar Ramirez (The Girl on the Train, Domino), Dawn Olivieri (Heroes), and Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad).
So how did Netflix get these stars for a Netflix-only flick? It paid nearly $100 million for exclusive rights, bypassing the theater release. Netflix is banking on Will Smith’s name to boost membership, and it must be confident in its business model, in the States and abroad–to take this next step. It is possible Netflix may still decide to have a limited theatrical release.
Check out this first preview for Bright:
Look for Bright on Netflix, December 2017.