Netflix aims to make ‘Bright’ a living room blockbuster

FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is pictured on a television in this illustration photograph taken in Encinitas California
FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is pictured on a television in this illustration photograph taken in Encinitas, California, U.S., on January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

December 21, 2017

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Netflix Inc’s new movie “Bright” features 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.

Very few cinemas, however, will be showing the fantasy thriller starring Will Smith when it debuts on Friday. Netflix will instead release the movie to the company’s 109 million streaming customers around the world to watch at home.

Although Netflix has released smaller, less expensive original films this way, “Bright” is more of a gamble. The movie, set in Los Angeles in a world where orcs, elves and other fantastic creatures co-exist with humans, cost more than $90 million to make, and it is the kind of rich, cinematic action movie traditionally generally considered best on the giant screen.

At the red-carpet premiere for “Bright” in Los Angeles, its star said he wondered how audiences would react to seeing the film on televisions or mobile devices.

“There’s an emotional overwhelming that happens when you watch something in a movie theater with 400 people, right?” Smith said. He noted the film had production values as high as any of his other big movies, but asked: “Does it penetrate in the same way?”

Netflix argues that today’s internet-ready TVs and surround sound systems can provide a theater-quality experience at home. The company encourages filmmakers to consider using video technology called high dynamic range, which brightens images and makes details stand out, and the latest sound from Dolby Laboratories Inc. Both were used in “Bright.”

At a new production space and offices in Hollywood, Netflix employs a color scientist and other technical experts to help filmmakers incorporate innovations.

The company began promoting “Bright” on the streaming service back in March, much earlier than usual.

Utilizing its extensive data about viewer tastes, it began showing movie trailers at that time to targeted subscribers. The promotions go only to customers who Netflix considers likely to enjoy the film based on their viewing history, Chris Jaffe, vice president of user interface innovation, told reporters earlier this month. The company’s computer algorithm looks at more than 100 factors to identify those subscribers, he said.

“Bright” will also be released initially in two theaters in the United States and 10 in Britain. Most major chains have refused to show Netflix movies because of the company’s practice of releasing films at the same time online and in theaters. Movies from traditional studios typically run exclusively in cinemas for about three months.

It will be difficult to gauge if “Bright” is a hit, because Netflix does not disclose viewership data.

While the filmmakers might have liked a wider run in theaters for “Bright,” they were impressed by Netflix’s ability to release the film simultaneously in homes around the world, producer Bryan Unkeless said. “Bright” will be subtitled in 26 languages and dubbed in nine of them.

“The global scope that Netflix offers was a huge plus for us,” Unkeless said.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Additional reporting by Jane Ross in Los Angeles; Editing by Sue Horton and Rosalba O’Brien)

  • Harvey Jones

    I have to confess that I watched Bright to the end. I am sorry I did. I like Will Smith as an actor and have seen some of his films and enjoyed them all. Bright was a good film ruined by the dialog/director. I had commented to my wife before watching that most of Mr. Smith’s films were light on swearing and I hoped this would be the same. WRONG!! There were over 100 “F” words for no reason other than to make the film vulgar. An occasional “F” word seems almost required these days but this was over the top. Do not watch this film. If you have watched the trailer for it, you have seen the best part of it with the killing of the fairy scene. That was the funniest part of the film. After that you hear the sucking sound of your life going down the drain.

  • whoselineisitanyway

    Not seeing this one either.
    Movies nowadays suck.

    • famouswolf

      Won’t bother with this, no. Will Smith is the kiss-of-death to a movie for me, along with such as Matt Damon, George Clooney, Tom Hanks…and such.
      Hey, if you want to see some good swords and sorcery (including elves, dwarves, and orcs) along with quite a menagerie, look up Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, and then the Lord of the Rings. The good news is that everything made these days isn’t bad, just most of it.

      • Banshee

        LOTR, yes. The Hobbit, no. Jackson took way too many liberties with the story. But, I’ll always prefer the books over any movies. 🙂

        • famouswolf

          I didn’t mind the liberties taken, for the most part. I did find Laketown and the very extended part where Smaug was chasing the dwarves around inside the mountain over the top. It didn’t ruin the movie for me, though. I thought the female elf added something, for some reason. Speaking of which, LOTR had quite a few ‘liberties’ as well. They just went too far over the top for you in The Hobbit, I guess. I understand.
          It’s like the movie John Carter. It was widely panned, but I thought it an excellent example of a genre (Sword and Planet) that has not had much exposure at all. Same thing, it was hardly recognizable as A Princess of Mars but I really enjoyed it in spite of the clumsy bits of pc that were incorporated. It’s too bad there were no sequels imo.
          In both cases, I just switch gears depending on whether I am reading the book version or watching the movie version.
          Really good fantasy, swords and sorcery, science fiction, and sword and planet movies are so rare I am overjoyed whenever one that is that good in production values comes along, and can be forgiving about the aforementioned liberties taken…although I agree that they can be annoying.