Joel Edgerton on the “Extra Critical Hate” Towards ‘Bright’ and His Hopes for the Sequel

     February 28, 2018

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I have yet to see Bright but the film certainly has a bit of a divide between general audiences and critics. The movie currently sits at a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, but Netflix claims it’s one of their most popular movies, and the streaming giant is already developing Bright 2 with David Ayer set to write and direct and Will Smith and Joel Edgerton expected to reprise their roles as L.A. cops Daryl Ward and Nick Jakoby, respectively.

Edgerton is currently doing press for his new movie Red Sparrow, and during his conversation with Collider’s own Steve Weintraub, he talked about the response to Bright and his thoughts on the upcoming sequel.

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Image via Netflix

When it comes to the reaction to Bright, Edgerton is a bit harsh on critics, and makes a spurious argument that the film got “extra critical hate” because putting a blockbuster on Netflix is about “changing the landscape of the movie business”:

“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.”

I think that’s a little ridiculous, and you can look at the critical raves for Netflix movies like Beasts of No Nation, Okja, and Mudbound to see that critics really don’t care what platform the movie is on; it’s about evaluating the movie itself. Additionally, it’s a bit of a cop-out to cite audience scores versus critical scores when it suits you. Edgerton’s feature directorial debut The Gift has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, but only 75% from viewers. So which score should we use?

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Image via Netflix

As for what’s cooking with Bright 2, Edgerton doesn’t have any firm details, but he’s eager to return to playing Nick and possibly seeing the story branch out beyond L.A.:

“The world is very interesting, and I think there’s a certain depth and detail to that world that’s really wonderful. I think on the one hand it’s interesting that some of the criticisms of the film is that some of the analogies about race didn’t go deep enough, and other people said it was obvious and didn’t need to go too far with it because it was there on the surface. I think there’s a lot of fun to be had, there’s more to discover with the characters. I don’t know exactly where they’re going to take it. I got the sense from David that he might take it to a new setting, which I think would be cool to see. I personally was most curious of what was happening outside of Los Angeles, and obviously the world at large is populated by similar characters and how does that affect other cities? I think it’d be awesome to have a look at that. It’s interesting where do Daryl and Nick go now that they’ve had that experience. Is Jacoby now suddenly more accepted because he went through that experience, or is he going to go back to work on Monday and have people mistreat him?

 

I always think the best of anything and it’s the filmmakers or Netflix or any us learn from the response to the movie—and I’m talking about the negative responses to the movie and what people out there on the street loved about the movie—I think if you take all that information it puts you in a nice spot to make a second and maybe a third movie perhaps. It’s always worth listening to the fans and the good and bad responses to it. I don’t know much, and I can tell you why I signed on for a sequel. I had a good time with the people; I had a tough time in the prosthetics for sure, but I loved playing the character. Between ‘action’ and ‘cut’, it was one of the most exciting characters I ever got to play just because of the complete freedom. I love improvising, it was my version of like playing Chunk in Goonies or Shrek or something—the big, kicked-to-the-curb, ugly, misunderstood, monster character.”

Outside his misunderstood monster role in the Bright universe, Edgerton is keeping busy as usual. He’ll next appear as a CIA agent in the spy thriller Red Sparrow alongside  Jennifer Lawrence and his brother Nash Edgerton‘s comedy Gringo alongside Charlize Theron and David Oyelowo. Later this year, he’ll debut his sophomore feature, the conversation therapy drama Boy Erased, for which Edgerton once again writes, directs and stars.

What do you think about Edgerton’s thoughts on the Bright reaction? What do you want to see in Bright 2? Where would you like to see the characters go? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts.

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