Netflix’s 'Bright' lands 11 million audience, divides critics, viewers

Will Smith plays Los Angeles cop Daryl Ward in Netflix's feature-length holiday release ‘Bright’. — Reuters pic
Will Smith plays Los Angeles cop Daryl Ward in Netflix's feature-length holiday release ‘Bright’. — Reuters pic

LOS ANGELES, Dec 30 ― Netflix's feature-length holiday release Bright, a tale of LA cops, robbers, orcs and fairies, fared even better than The Crown, according to a Nielsen estimate.

With a production budget of US$90 million (RM364 million), Bright was Netflix's most expensive original movie, favoured with a comprehensive blockbuster-style advertising campaign designed to boost interest in (and subscriptions to) the video streaming service.

Featuring Will Smith as Los Angeles cop Daryl Ward, and Joel Edgerton as the city's first Orc officer and Ward's LAPD partner, alternative-world modern fantasy Bright has the pair caught up in competing plots to invoke and prevent the coming of a powerful Dark Lord.

So how successful was it? According to Nielsen, a three-day audience of 11 million viewers places December 22 debut Bright above the December 8 release of British royal biographical drama The Crown season two (budget estimated at US$130 million,) but below the October 27 second season of Stranger Things (US$72 million estimate.)

But in terms of critical reception, Bright stuck a low 29/100 average review score on Metacritic and a 29 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (based on a 3.8/10 average.)

A disjointed story and shallow treatment of deep themes were among factors that made the film a flop, according to the consensus.

Among its audience who presumably watched it because they were already disposed to enjoy it, Bright was better received. It notched a 7.4 user score on Metacritic, and an 88 per cent audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (with a 4.3/5 average score.) A 6.6/10 IMDb user score is derived from 54,000 ratings.

That said, Netflix may not mind the critical consensus, given that it awarded Adam Sandler a four-film deal in 2014.

The comedian and actor has regularly disappointed critics with a career review average of 38/100 (Metacritic) ― notable exceptions being Punch-Drunk Love and fourth Netflix film The Meyerowitz Stories.

And despite his first Netflix production, The Ridiculous 6, being panned at review, it evidently found an audience. The 2016 release set the network's record for most views over a 30-day period.

Similarly, Will Smith has hardly delighted professional reviewers with a string of slatings for Collateral Beauty, Annie, Winter's Tale and After Earth, but his career's box office gross stands at US$3.2 billion. 2016's Suicide Squad, directed by Bright man David Ayer, lolloped to US$325 million despite a lukewarm reception. A Bright sequel, announced just before the feature released, is also on Smith's plate. ― AFP-Relaxnews

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