David Ayer on why Netflix is the perfect home for Bright
It wasn't all that long ago in the grand scheme of things when people believed that Netflix was set to fall, especially after that whole Quickster debacle, but the streaming service bounced back in a big way when they began offering their own content and ever since then, Netflix has been on the rise. With Netflix also breaking into the world of feature-films, the company is set to make another big leap forwards. Earlier this month Netflix successfully outbid other studios for BRIGHT, a supernatural cop thriller based upon a spec script by Max Landis which will be directed by David Ayer and star Will Smith and Joel Edgerton.
While many were suspecting that BRIGHT would wind up at Warner Bros., the SUICIDE SQUAD director recently revealed why he believes that Netflix is the perfect home for a film like BRIGHT.
I was after the creative freedom, the ability to make really hard-R-rated movies with vision and voice and see them play in the on-demand world. You do that as a theatrical release, and you’d better hit a bull’s-eye, some cultural zeitgeist. Otherwise it’s a gamble for studios; it’s easier for them to justify $200M budgets for tentpoles than $40M to $90M for the movies I like to make.
At the moment it's not known what, if any, plans are in place for a theatrical release for BRIGHT, but that was never a priority for David Ayer, who is relishing the opportunity to be at "the tip of the spear" in an ever changing business which Ayer says is the future of the entertainment industry.
I felt like we were given a hunting license to be truly creative, and to do what I love. The middle of the business, these journeyman movies, they have just gone away. Major [studios] are interested in the hyper-specialized awards season and tentpoles, and that’s it. Playing a role in re-establishing the middle ground I like to play in as a writer and director, it just made sense. This business is bifurcating, and you follow that line and look down the road 10 years and you see where it’s going. Disruption is healthy, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of this.
Max Landis wrote the script to BRIGHT on spec while convalescing from hip surgery, and the writer dedicated the script to his stylistic influences, J.R.R. Tolkien and David Ayer; so when David Ayer expressed interest in the script, Landis was quite excited as it's been his dream to write a David Ayer movie. Landis describes his first meeting with Ayer as "bizarre" as Ayer is "this super alpha male, former military guy, and I’m a rainbow-haired lunatic with a slight build," but the two quickly found common ground as Landis felt that David Ayer really got what he was going for. As for the project landing at Netflix's door, Max Landis couldn't be happier.
He said he’d have to take it to Warner Bros, which made me nervous because I saw this as an indie movie and I didn’t want a studio. And then this series of phone calls happened, and Warners couldn’t catch up to the money. I’m a storyteller, as pretentious as that might sound, and the second your script falls into the hands of others, it is Frankenstein’s monster. I just trusted David, but there was no way a studio would give him final cut or keep me in the sequels if this thing hits. Chronicle was the big lesson. Like Bright, it was a big idea, and I was very close to that script and it became a huge hit, but I still got cut out of the process. Here, I wasn’t taking chances. In one scene, the Orc has a guy at knifepoint and calls him a dumb motherf*cker. Studios don’t want to do that.
BRIGHT, which is set in a world where magical creatures live side by side with humans, certainly sounds like a fun project, and if a director like David Ayer will be given greater control over at Netflix than one of the major studios, I'm all for it. BRIGHT deals with a police division which specializes in handling crimes involving magic and follows a human cop (Will Smith) who is forced to work with an Orc (Joel Edgerton) in order to find a powerful wand that certain unsavory elements are prepared to kill for. David Ayer's next film, SUICIDE SQUAD, is set for a August 5, 2016 release. No Orcs this time though.