A couple weeks ago, we reported that Netflix was the frontrunner to land the supernatural cop thriller Bright, and that winning the bidding war could result in the biggest get yet for the studio. Deadline is now reporting that Netflix has indeed won and that the cost was huge for the streaming giant. Netflix has reportedly paid $90 million for the David Ayer film, which is about a human cop (will Smith) who is forced to work with an orc (Joel Edgerton) in order to find a powerful wand for which others would kill to obtain. The project is being described as a midway point between David Ayer’s End of Watch and 1988’s Alien Nation.
According to Deadline, $3 million alone goes to screenwriter Max Landis (American Ultra), which is one of the largest spec deals for a writer in years. “The film will cost around $45M to shoot, meaning that just about that much will be invested in talent fees, and also to buy out their back ends,” reports Deadline. As for how the film will be distributed, “there could be a limited theatrical launch day and date, Netflix is doing this to serve subscribers to its streaming service in countries around the world and so there will be no backend residuals.”
The question is whether this will be day-and-date for the U.S. Many theaters won’t accept films that don’t abide by a release window that gives them months of exclusivity. But that’s easy to do when you have something that’s tough like Netflix’s Beasts of No Nation. It’s harder to refuse a film with Will Smith’s star power and a blockbuster hook that’s reportedly along the lines of an R-rated Men in Black.
Netflix has made a production commitment to the film (obviously; they also think it has franchise postential), and plans to shoot this fall. It will be interesting to see if this gamble pays off for Netflix or if their streaming model helps to mitigate the risk. Either way, this is a huge step for the company, and it shows they’re no longer content with TV series, documentaries, and indies.