Although our own Adam Popovich had fun with David Ayer’s new LAPD-sponsored thrill-ride, Bright, most critics did not. The film was universally panned, with Indiewire’s David Ehrlich calling it the worst movie of 2017. That didn’t deter viewers, however, who tuned in by the masses to watch Will Smith and Joel Edgert-orc (Orc-erton? Edg-orc-ton?) fight elves and basically remake Suicide Squad with more F-bombs and Tolkien references. How many, you ask? 11 million.
So, obviously, the first question here is: what does this number equal in ticket sales? It’s a valid question, and one worth considering when you realize that Netflix threw $90 million dollars into this thing, and are already working on a sequel. With the average ticket price being about $10 dollars these days, 11 million people going to see Bright would have earned the film roughly $110,000,000. That’s a lot of money for a movie that has Will Smith say “you speak Orcish?!” with a straight face. It’s also a lot of money for any movie, these days. 2017 wasn’t exactly the year of moviegoing, and steadily rising ticket prices lead to one of the worst years in history. To put this in perspective, only seven movies opened to more than $100 million at the box office, and Bright could’ve been one of them.
But would it have grossed $110 million if people were forced to leave their houses and spend anywhere from $15 to $100 dollars just to watch it. Definitely not. And that’s the big concern with Netflix’s plan to release big budget blockbusters. If Bright is any indication, Netflix isn’t using their platform to fund big movies with big ideas. Instead, we may see more and more high-quality prestige television from Netflix while their movies continue to target the lowest common denominator of viewership. To quote Ehrlich’s review, Bright was “written to accommodate a teenage kid who’s multi-tasking between the movie he’s watching in one window and the porn he’s streaming in another.”
Netflix has infamously refused to release numbers on which shows and movies are streamed the most, probably to save them the embarrassment of having everyone know that the world would rather watch The Ridiculous Six on repeat than ever sit through a single episode of The Crown. However, Nielsen – the company that essentially determines how many people are watching a single show or televised event – recently made a rule that entitles them to start tracking viewership data for streaming and OnDemand services. This means we’ll be seeing a lot more of these opening day/weekend numbers from Netflix, and it’ll be interesting to see what the people really want to watch.
Bright is currently streaming on Netflix.