Another day, another Netflix cancellation. Will Smith's movie sequel Bright 2 is reportedly the latest to join the long list, although we're not sure that's such a bad thing.
The news comes from Bloomberg reporter Lucas Shaw, who tweeted about another Smith project being delayed (opens in new tab) in the wake of the now-infamous Oscars slap, then followed it up by revealing that Bright would no longer get a sequel (opens in new tab). This is, apparently, "unrelated to the incident" though.
NatGeo has delayed the start of production on its big Will Smith show following the Slap. But it's still happening.Netflix has also abandoned plans to make a sequel to Brright, but that is unrelated to the incident.@chrispalmeri https://t.co/rj5T5RNc3yApril 21, 2022
If true — and we have no reason to doubt Shaw on this — it joins an ever-growing list of cancellations at the troubled streaming service.
Last week, we heard that a long-in-development animated adaptation of comic book series Bone has reportedly been canceled before the first episode even aired and the tally of Netflix canceled shows this year alone includes Archive 81, The Baby-Sitters Club, Gentefied and On the Verge. To that list you can now add Raising Dion, canceled by Netflix despite an 83% Rotten Tomatoes score.
At the same time, Bright 2 being shelved, if indeed it has been, would hardly be a major surprise.
For starters, the original movie sucked — big time. The 2017 film has a paltry 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab), and as someone who suffered through it, I might suggest that's generous.
Directed by Max Landis and starring Smith and Joel Edgerton, Bright is an urban fantasy in which humans coexist uneasily with orcs and elves. Smith is an LAPD cop, while Edgerton plays his orc partner.
It's actually a pretty neat concept, and one that allowed the story to explore racism and police corruption, but unfortunately it just wasn't very good. As the Chicago Sun-Times put it (opens in new tab), "Bright is basically a tired buddy-cop movie dressed up in bizarre trappings."
It was, however, very successful — to the extent that Netflix co-CEO Ted Hastings revealed (opens in new tab) it "has become one of our most-viewed original titles ever" just a month after its release. Hastings also declared that "We're thrilled with this performance and are planning a sequel as well as additional investment in original films."
And indeed, as recently as last summer Variety reported (opens in new tab) that a script for Bright 2 was close to being finalized, and that Smith and Edgerton were both onboard.
However, it was also very expensive — $90m, according to one report (opens in new tab) — and Netflix has just confirmed its first subscriber drop in a decade. With consumers around the world facing tightening budgets, that drop is predicted to grow by 2 million over the next few months.
Netflix reportedly has plans to increase revenue by cracking down on account sharing and introducing an ad-funded tier, and it could also experiment with the nuclear option of ending binge-watching. However, with Netflix stock plunging (opens in new tab) Bright 2 may just be too expensive for the service to take a bet on.
Plus, while Smith's Oscars incident may not be the direct cause of the reported cancellation, it can't have helped either. Still, we won't exactly mourn the demise of Bright 2 and will instead console ourselves with the 5 best new movies to stream this week on HBO Max, Netflix and more.
In other streaming news, fans of The Wire may want to watch We Own This City online, while Starz is true to its name pulling in Sean Penn and Julia Roberts: you can watch Gaslit online starting this weekend.