Will Smith and David Ayer’s ‘Bright’ Lands Netflix’s Biggest Deal to Date
Earlier this month, news broke that Netflix was negotiating exclusive rights to Bright, a new fantasy action thriller that will reunite director David Ayer with Suicide Squad star Will Smith. The new film from American Ultra screenwriter Max Landis is Netflix’s biggest deal so far, nabbing a $90 million budget that could have some interesting implications for the streaming giant, particularly since most theater chains won’t screen films that don’t honor the typical 90-day window between theatrical and home / streaming release.
Deadline confirms that Netflix has officially signed on for Bright, giving Ayer a $90 million budget for the fantasy thriller that takes place in a fictional realm and follows an orc cop (seriously) who teams up with a human cop to locate a mystical wand that could have dire ramifications in the wrong hands. Joel Edgerton will co-star with Smith in the film, which heads into production this fall.
Totally wacky plot description aside, Netflix’s deal for Bright is kind of a big one. The film will be the company’s most expensive to date, with Landis netting $3 million from the deal — a rare amount for a screenwriter, and one of the highest payouts for a script in years (which won’t make Landis’ haters very happy).
Also interesting is the question of whether Bright will be given a theatrical release. Deadline notes that “there could be a limited theatrical launch day and date, Netflix is doing this to serve subscribers to its streaming service in countries around the world and so there will be no backend residuals” — which means that no one involved will profit from Netflix’s perpetual streaming of the film, an idea that makes sense when you consider that the service will have exclusive rights. That would also explain why the budget — and Landis’ pay in particular — is so high.
It’s unclear if Netflix is planning a day-and-date release in U.S. theaters as they did with Beasts of No Nation, which received a limited theatrical run to qualify for awards season. Most theaters refused to screen Cary Fukunaga’s drama due to its same-day availability on Netflix, but Bright is a big budget movie starring Will Smith, which makes the release plans for the film of particular interest.
If Netflix wants a wide release, will the major theater chains bow to the service and seize on a potentially sizable box office take? So far, Netflix’s plan has been to exclusively debut their new films on the streaming platform, with only a couple of titles receiving limited theatrical runs. Meanwhile, Amazon recently revealed plans to abide by the 90-day theatrical window for their original films, and while it’s yet to be proven, that deal may be of more benefit to the service come awards season.