Netflix service has won a bidding war for the rights to fantasy cop thriller Bright, starring Will Smith, according to Deadline. Over $3 million is going to screenwriter Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra) for the script, and Netflix is setting aside $90 million to make the film — about half of that in production costs, and another half for talent. That makes this by far Netflix's largest movie deal.
Bright has some star power behind it — in addition to Will Smith, there are plans for David Ayer (End of Watch, Fury) to direct it and for Joel Edgerton (Exodus: Gods and Kings) to co-star. News of the deal was first reported earlier this month, but the terms have not been nailed down until now. Netflix reportedly beat out Warner Bros. for the rights to the film after an extended bidding war. That's notable, because Warner Bros. just finished working with both Smith and Ayer on Suicide Squad.
Film could see limited theatrical run
Netflix apparently sees Bright as a possible franchise designed to provide value to its subscribers around the world. That means it might get a limited theatrical run alongside a day-and-date release online, though theater chains have resisted such arrangements in the past. Either way, this type of distribution model means the stars won't be getting residuals from ticket sales after release, like a traditional movie. That's why Netflix is guaranteeing money up front for the big names involved in lieu of a cut of ticket sales.
In the film, Smith will play a (human) police officer who joins up with an orc played by Edgerton to find a magic wand that could do some damage in the wrong hands. In the world of the film, humans live alongside fantastical beings (like orcs and fairies). Naturally, the police have a unit committed to solving supernatural crime. Deadline reports that it will be rated R and will try to rekindle some of the magic of Men in Black. Shooting is pegged to start this fall in Los Angeles.