Joel Edgerton Bright

Critics hated Netflix’s original movie ‘Bright’, directed by David Ayer, and they let their opinions be heard loud and clear before it was made available to stream on December 22.  (It ranks at a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes.)  But perhaps the negative reactions spurred curiosity, as 11 million users streamed it the first weekend it was made available.  And much like Ayer’s last theatrical movie, ‘Suicide Squad’, viewer reaction was mixed, with some enjoying it a great deal.  Netflix almost immediately ordered a sequel.  A hit’s a hit, right?  It doesn’t matter if some checked it out due to morbid curiosity.

Star Joel Edgerton, who portrayed orc police officer Nick Jakoby, is now promoting his latest action flick, Francis Lawrence’s ‘Red Sparrow’.  But in a conversation with Collider, he was also asked about the vast divide between critical and audience reactions to ‘Bright’ and he had an… interesting theory.

“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.”

This might hold water if other Netflix original movies weren’t critically acclaimed.  ‘Mudbound’ has a 96% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes and is nominated for four Academy Awards.  Another original movie from last year, ‘Okja’ has a solid 85% ranking.  2015’s ‘Beasts of No Nations’ has a ranking of 91% and was nominated for a Golden Globe.  So the idea that film critics– who don’t work for the studios– are incensed about how films are delivered, doesn’t actually make sense and clearly isn’t true.

But sadly, these dramas aren’t as easily accessible as Ayer’s action fantasy which in addition to Edgerton, starred a major celebrity, Will Smith.  Subscribers streamed the hell out of ‘Bright’ and whether critics want it or not, ‘Bright 2’ is coming with all three of these principle figures returning.  No release date has been announced.