In case you’ve somehow missed the massive advertising campaign, Netflix released a movie called Bright a week ago. It’s the most expensive movie the streaming service has produced, reportedly costing somewhere between $90 million and $100 million—and that’s without marketing costs. It isn’t a very good movie, as far as I’m concerned and most critics are concerned, but it streamed over 11 million times in its first 3 days, which, well, just think about how much ticket money that would equate to if it was released in theaters.
The point is, a lot of people tuned in, even if they didn’t necessarily enjoy the experience. Cinema is a largely results-oriented business, so Netflix has decided it will greenlight a sequel to Bright. Director David Ayer is back, actors Will Smith and Joel Edgerton are back—the only big difference, at this point, is that screenwriter Max Landis is not returning, as far as we know. Ayer is set to write the screenplay instead.
So, it’s speculation time. Here are the routes I would like Netflix to consider taking Bright.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Bright is the world in which it takes place. For those who haven’t seen it, it is set on an Earth in which humans, orcs, elves, and dwarves—among others—all live in tenuous harmony with each other—but there are still small day-to-day conflicts, racism, and larger behind-the-scenes tensions between them all. There was a great war a couple of centuries ago and everyone’s still a bit sour about it.
You don’t get to explore this world all that thoroughly in two hours. That’s especially true when you’re doing a narrowly focused cop movie. This is a Netflix property. It doesn’t have to follow convention. You can move back and forth between movies and series without any issue—it’s all streaming in the same place anyway. Use this opportunity to put the TV division to work and give us a much better idea of the world in which Bright takes place.
TV Series … Then Movie
Building off the last point, once you do that, move forward with another film. Maybe go back and forth—using the movie as a season finale, of sorts. A two-hour episode of the show, really, with maybe a bigger budget. Then go back to the series if you still have more stories to tell.
Individual Character Movies
While I’d love for Netflix to go the TV route, I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen right away, if ever. It seems pretty set that the next Bright project is another movie. Since the stars seem ready for another go, I’d like to see it focused far more on one than the other, so that at least one character will get some actual depth. Given the revelations regarding Smith’s character at the end of Bright, logic would dictate that he gets the focus—even though his orc partner might make for a more interesting film.
The point is that we’ve got a cop movie already, so let’s look for a different direction for the sequel. Making it a drama based on one of their lives in this fantasy land might work better.
If the world is more interesting than the characters and plot—and so far, it is—how about making a mockumentary detailing the world. It can focus on the history of the races, show how they all work together now, and you can still cram all of the social commentary Bright features into this format.
This might work best as an hour-long episode of a potential show or a companion piece to a movie than as a full-length film, but it’s something that I’d be interested in seeing.
The standout character of Bright, at least for me, was the evil elf played by Noomi Rapace. We don’t really get a lot of information on her in the movie, and chances are pretty good—but not nonexistent—that she won’t return for the sequel. I’d like to see a prequel for her character, which would fill in some missing information and give us some fun evil elf action.
Or, if that’s not the character to focus on, do one on Joel Edgerton’s orc. Orcs aren’t police force material, but he makes it—and claims that’s what he’s wanted to do his whole life. Seeing his story, and how he got to this position, would be pretty interesting for us to see, I think.
Since we have now had a cop movie—and David Ayer has done at least a couple of those at this point (End of Watch is amazing, by the way)—maybe it’s time to switch up the genres. After the events of Bright, I think that would be pretty easy and a natural transition. Turn it into a more action-focused or thriller-focused affair with more magic and less police politics. Just don’t have them both return to being police officers and doing police officer things for the majority of the film, please. That would feel like a letdown, and make it feel even more like we’ve seen it before—something with which Bright already struggled.
We already have the stars signed on, so this feels like the longest shot of anything on this list, but I’d rather focus on other characters. You can still have it take place after Bright, but give us new characters who were impacted by the events that took place in Bright and have to figure out how to deal with that in a sequel. You can have our previous protagonists show up every now and then, as they’re intrinsically tied to the plot at this point, but give us new, more dynamic characters.