Netflix’s foray’s into original science fiction and fantasy features has not paid off well in recent months. While its acquisition of Alex Garland’s “Annihilation” was a bold move and a clever pickup of a great film, the recent releases of both “Mute” and “The Cloverfield Paradox” have been met with mostly disdain – especially from critics.
In fact, the dislike of those two is so strong it makes the critical lambasting that their big-budget fantasy film “Bright” scored in December seem almost kind in comparison. David Ayer’s $90 million film about a cop (Will Smith) and an orc (Joel Edgerton) on patrol currently sits at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, though Netflix has been quick to crow about its popularity and confirmed a sequel has already been greenlit.
Edgerton, currently doing press for “Red Sparrow,” spoke with Collider about the response to “Bright” and though not a fan of critics, he thinks the film got ‘extra hate’ because of it being a Netflix original:
“All I know is what was reported, which was something like—whatever number was reported – something like 11 million that first weekend. Whatever it was, it amounted to a $100 million-plus opening weekend. But, I have to be honest, that’s considering that people don’t have to get in their car, go buy a ticket, go buy the popcorn. There’s a certain age where you can roll over and press play on the remote control. But, according to them, the numbers were there.
And I think that would be supported by the wild discrepancy between the audience score and the Rotten Tomatoes aggregate score, it’s almost the inverse of Star Wars [The Last Jedi]. You’ve got critics at 93 or 92%, and the audience gave it a 50-something, and you get to Bright, which is sort of slammed by critics, but it has a 90% audience score.
I think there was a little bit of extra critical hate towards it because it’s changing the landscape of the movie business, but I think ‘Bright’ is maybe a movie that needs to be reviewed by public opinion rather than viewed through the highbrow prism of film criticism.”
While critics have been fairly down on Netflix films overall, some exceptions have scored raves including “Mudbound,” “Okja” and “Beasts of No Nation”. Edgerton himself has also faired well thanks to critics with his directorial debut “The Gift” scoring a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, but scoring decidedly less both with audience aggregate ratings and debuting to soft box-office.
Speaking about the “Bright” sequel, Edgerton says he gets the sense that Ayer might take it to a new setting, likely outside of Los Angeles, to see what’s happening with the world at large. The comments come as the film’s producers Eric Newman and Bryan Unkeless and their Screen Arcade production company have scored a multiyear first-look deal with Netflix. The streaming giant will get a first look at any feature film that Newman (“Narcos”) or Unkeless (“I, Tonya”) want to produce.
Edgerton next appears in “Red Sparrow” opening today and his brother Nash Edgerton’s new comedy “Gringo” in a few weeks. His second directorial effort, “Boy Erased,” premieres later this year.