Netflix’s initial experiment into providing “blockbuster”-caliber original movies on its streaming service has not exactly set the critical world ablaze with acclaim, but the audience reaction to Bright is telling a decidedly different story. In an interesting inversion of the split between critical/audience response to Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, audience scores for the David Ayer-directed (and Max Landis-penned) Netflix film have actually been quite positive. And that positivity has translated into big viewership numbers—more than 11 million U.S. viewers in only the first three days of release. That’s almost on par with the likes of Stranger Things 2, and by any metric, it points to Bright being a big success.
Starring Will Smith as an L.A. cop in a world replete with fantasy elements in the style of The Lord of the Rings, Bright seems to have more than a bit of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series in its DNA, imagining a modern world where fantasy creatures and magic have always existed alongside mundane humanity. In the film, Smith’s cop character is paired up with the department’s first orc officer, played by Joel Edgerton, making for a storyline with obvious parallels to films such as Training Day, except with a fantastical twist. Sharp-eyed viewers on Reddit have likewise pointed out some of the film’s more subtle fantasy references that appear only briefly, including dragons and centaur cops who put an amusing spin on the idea of “mounted police.”
According to Deadline, viewership is skewing toward the younger side. Around 3.9 million of the viewers were between 18-34, and 7 million were between 18-49, with a 56 percent male gender split—actually pretty impressive, given the genre influences.
Suddenly, it’s becoming more clear why Netflix has reportedly already ordered a sequel. The fans of Bright will presumably be pleased to take another spin with these characters.