When David Ayer and Will Smith’s Netflix tentpole “Bright” became available to stream on December 22, it was met with some of the most hostile reviews of 2017. IndieWire’s own David Ehrlich gave the film an F rating, calling the fantasy-realism film “miserable” and “the worst film of the year,” and the film currently has a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. But the abysmal reviews couldn’t stop “Bright” from becoming a humongous hit on Netflix and earning a sequel.
At the end of last year, a report from Nielsen Ratings revealed that 11 million Netflix users streamed “Bright” during its first three days of release, which put it just under “Stranger Things” territory. While Netflix executives Ted Sarandos and Reed Hastings would not disclose the specific amount of “Bright” viewers during an investors conference call this week, they did confirm that “Bright” is one of the biggest original offerings they’ve ever produced, including film and television series.
According to both Netlfix bosses, “Bright’s” success is proof that film critics don’t matter as much when they’re trying to tap into a global audience.
“Critics are an important part of the artistic process, but [they are] pretty disconnected from the commercial prospects of a film,” chief content officer Sarandos said. “[Film critics] speak to specific audiences who care about quality, or how objectively good or bad a movie is—not the masses who are critical for determining whether a film makes money.”
“The critics are pretty disconnected from the mass appeal,” added CEO Hastings.
Sarandos and Hastings’ opinions are certainly debatable, especially since bad reviews translated into bad box office for many tentpoles this summer, but one could also point to films like “Blade Runner 2049” to prove their point. If reviews equaled profitability at the box office, then the acclaimed “2049” would’ve been a much bigger hit.
Netflix isn’t letting critics dictate their future either, as the streaming giant already has Ayer, Smith, and Joel Edgerton set to return for a “Bright” sequel.