August 24, 2017
Netflix Inks $90M Deal For Will Smith's Fantasy Cop Thriller 'Bright'

Netflix will invest $90 million in the Max Landis scripted cop thriller starring Will Smith titled, Bright. Directed by David Ayer and co-starring Joel Edgerton, the fantastical film is one of the largest spec deals for a writer in years. Deadline reports the deal includes "north of $3M for the Landis script," and is intended to launch a franchise. The film will cost around $45 million to shoot - half of that in production costs, and another half for talent - making this Netflix's largest movie deal.

Netflix beat out at least two other suitors for the project after an extended bidding war. Warner Bros teamed with MGM, and they were willing to pay $50 million. PalmStar's Kevin Frakes offered to commit to a total budget of $60 million. Both of these deals would have been for a traditional wide theatrical release. In the end, the principals "embraced the disruptive model" that Netflix was offering. What's notable is that Warner Bros. just finished working with both Smith and Ayer on Suicide Squad, which releases later this year. Ayer is also responsible for writing Training Day. Landis, who wrote Chronicle and Victor Frankenstein, is penning the upcoming 2017 Power Rangers movie.

Netflix inked the deal to serve and secure global streaming subscribers, and Bright might get a limited theatrical run alongside a day-and-date release online, a release strategy many theater chains have publicly denounced, as Business Insider notes.

"It's going to be very, very difficult for Netflix to get the major theater chains to carry its movies," FBR Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett recently told The Los Angeles Times.

Since the stars won't be getting residuals from ticket sales after release, Netflix is guaranteeing money up front. The producer deals are still being negotiated, but Eric Newman, Ayer, Landis, and Bryan Unkeless will reportedly share producing duties. Bright will shoot this fall in Los Angeles. No release date has been given.

The Verge posted a short synopsis of the film, which tells the story of a human cop (Smith) who teams with an orc (Edgerton) to find a magic wand before it falls into the hands of evil. Humans live alongside fantastical beings, and "police have a unit committed to solving supernatural crime." The film will have an R-rating, and be reminiscent of Men in Black.

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Meanwhile, Will and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith recently donated $30,000 to New York University's undergraduate film program, and according to Variety, the money will be used to aid female filmmakers and to finance student filmmakers of tomorrow. The money will also be issued to finance student-created television pilots.

"Will and Jada Smith have a strong desire and commitment to the education of tomorrow's storytellers, and we're thrilled that they have decided to support some of out standout students and programs," said Joe Pichirallo, chair of Tisch's undergraduate film and TV department.

Netflix has nearly a dozen more original movies planned, including a project starring Paul Rudd. The company also teamed with Plan B to produce War Machine starring Brad Pitt. According to Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, "War Machine is a rip-roaring, behind-the-facade tale of modern war decision-makers, from the corridors of power to the distant regions of Americas ambitions."

Netflix Original series like Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards, Marvel's Daredevil, and Marvel's Jessica Jones have been a hit - attracting more subscribers to the streaming service. The company is hoping a possible franchise blockbuster like Bright could lure people onto the platform.

[Image courtesy Abraham Caro Marin/AP]