Never underestimate the self-delusion of a Hollywood professional
December 5, 2017 11:52 AM   Subscribe

In two weeks, Netflix will premiere Bright. Starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton – real movie stars – directed by David Ayer – a real movie director – the film is said to have cost somewhere in the time zone of $120 million – real money. So why does Bright not feel like a real film?

Netflix has been a year in this Movie of the Week business, and they can shush us with their secret data all they want, but by this point if there was one that was having any impact at all, anyplace, on any level, we would’ve heard about it.

(This is the latest free excerpt of The Ankler, the paywalled Hollywood industry newsletter.)
posted by roger ackroyd (86 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Because you need to do a little work to see a movie, opposed to a TV show you can watch whenever while not wearing pants. To see a movie you need to find out when and where, make plans with whoever you are going with, maybe deal with a meal or getting a babysitter, drive to the theatre, endure months of posters/ tv ads/promotion.

This you need to flip on whenever maybe take a break halfway through to play Xbox. Regardless of the stars or budget, it's not a movie. It's a short TV series.
posted by Keith Talent at 12:03 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


I have enjoyed a few Netflix original movies (Okja, Gerald's Game, I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore) but I agree that, for the most part, they don't feel like real movies. Something in the same-ness of the art design and cinematography, perhaps? Not sure exactly what, but the difference is tangible.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:04 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


The author of this piece clearly admits that he or she has not even seen the movie so I'm puzzled why we're giving this any attention whatsoever on MetaFilter.
posted by ElKevbo at 12:05 PM on December 5 [47 favorites]


"Having not seen it..."

Wait, what?

So, this is an awful lot of opinions about a movie that they haven't seen, based on statistical analysis of facebook/twitter/google.

The premise of this article seems strong; why isn't Netflix making 'real films' (or films that 'feel real', whatever that means). But it feels like they haven't delivered the goods on insight.

Insight that may include discussions that Netflix *can* deliver the goods on prestige television, and get all the buzz in the world for their TV.

In some ways this feels like a little smug Hollywood insider 'don't worry about Netflix, they aren't a real threat.'

I don't even necessarily disagree with the premise that Netflix doesn't feel as "big" as it probably would be if it were to have a theatrical release. But I would expect an article from a site that's about to become paywalled to bring some goods to the article. They ask the question, I really expect them to provide some answers. More than that I would snarkily suggest that this doesn't feel like a 'real' article.
posted by el io at 12:06 PM on December 5 [20 favorites]


More than that I would snarkily suggest that this doesn't feel like a 'real' article.
Having not read the article, I must agree.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 12:09 PM on December 5 [113 favorites]


Because you need to do a little work to see a movie, opposed to a TV show you can watch whenever while not wearing pants.

I dunno. Thanks to my video cassette recorder I can now watch Hollywood movies at home, and there’s a noticeable difference between them and standard TV productions.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:09 PM on December 5 [9 favorites]


looking like a movie that people in a movie go see, rather than a movie that real life people see

In fairness, I've felt this way about most movies that have been released in the past twenty years. I first started to suspect I wasn't living in the real universe when I saw a bus poster that said "This Christmas, Tim Allen is... Joe Somebody."
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:10 PM on December 5 [5 favorites]


David Ayer – a real movie director

[citation needed]
posted by octothorpe at 12:12 PM on December 5 [17 favorites]


I saw a bus poster that said "This Christmas, Tim Allen is... Joe Somebody."

That's... not a real movie, is it?
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:12 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


I mean "The Incredible Jessica James" felt as much like a "real movie" as "Don't Think Twice." Neither one was your typical Hollywood pitched-at-12-year-olds fare, but neither was True Art either. Netflix makes some crap and some good stuff, but I'll be damned if it basically has a couple dozen actual movies on it anymore. Mostly they seem to have gone to Amazon.
posted by rikschell at 12:13 PM on December 5 [4 favorites]


And the thing about directors and producers and stars, when they spend a year or two on a project, yes, they want the money, but they also want to think that someone, somewhere has seen it. So when no one mentions to them for months, “Hey I saw your new movie” when there’s no articles about the, just a handful of reviews by third-string bloggers.

I think the point he doesn't quite get to is that Netflix has not figured out the Hollywood marketing machine. The Bright trailer just did not do much for me and I'm in the target demographic, sometimes films get made, and just do not work. Orcs as urban street toughs probably sounded really cool in the pitch meeting. If you have not seen a "film" that is not releasable or "just not a movie" then some observations don't make sense, it's gotta be quite the uncomfortable moment in a screening room, credits roll and silence and it's clear that it's the last time it'll be seen. A recut will not help, not music or reshoots. But it happens. Bright might be close to that. Makes no sense to throw marketing dollars at that.
posted by sammyo at 12:25 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


The author of this piece clearly admits that he or she has not even seen the movie so I'm puzzled why we're giving this any attention whatsoever on MetaFilter.

It fits in well with the mefi aesthetic of "I haven't read this article but I am going to comment on this fpp anyway".

nb i have not read this article
posted by poffin boffin at 12:26 PM on December 5 [10 favorites]


The author of this piece clearly admits that he or she has not even seen the movie so I'm puzzled why we're giving this any attention whatsoever on MetaFilter.

It kinda looks like the first few comments in this thread were from people who didn't read the article, so.....
posted by mhoye at 12:26 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


because you need to do a little work to see a movie

Not really.

You just need to get old, cheap and jaded enough to stop going to the theater when every movie is released and wait for them to be available via on-demand streaming or DVD/Blu-ray or even your local public library. (Heck, the next generation or two older than mine still patiently waits until they are on cable or broadcast)
posted by jkaczor at 12:30 PM on December 5 [7 favorites]


I did read the article (mostly:) and the author either lacked the cohones or skill to make his point well. I do think there's a point but it's really more that the industry is changing and no one really has any idea where it's going. Netflix has cash and making content seems to make sense but really not, and they are either doing hollywood-accounting better than hollywood or they will be has beens soon.
posted by sammyo at 12:31 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


I really hope Bright turns out to be a fun romp with urban orcs.
posted by sammyo at 12:32 PM on December 5 [6 favorites]


I... think it looks fun? I thought Training Day was good and End of Watch was OK. They're never gonna make a Shadowrun movie, I figure this is about the best I can ask for.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 12:34 PM on December 5 [9 favorites]


The premise of this article seems strong; why isn't Netflix making 'real films' (or films that 'feel real', whatever that means).

So far - this year has been "hit-or-miss" - I didn't find "Okja" compelling or "movie-level-quality", nor "War Machine", "Spectral" or "ARQ" - but they were still slightly better than average TV-zone fare.

On-the-other-hand, I found 1922, Jim & Andy and the The Meyerowitz Stories to be very compelling.

But... their long-form TV shows can be great and rise above any other TV I have personally ever seen... "Stranger Things" (well, season 1 at least) and "The OA" - both felt like movies.
posted by jkaczor at 12:39 PM on December 5 [2 favorites]


Hat tip to the headline writer for "Netmare on Underwhelm Street."
posted by jonp72 at 12:40 PM on December 5 [6 favorites]


But at some point having no cultural footprint has an impact. [...] Film has always been about being part of an event.

As much as people do watch movies at home, in large numbers, there's still the sense that it's not the full experience, that films themselves are meant to inhabit the larger-than-life, louder-than-love Movie Theater. I almost never go to the movies anymore, but when I do, it's for this kind of blockbuster romp (okay, it's only Star Wars, and I don't even love Star Wars really), and it's generally breathtaking.

I don't think that films, even monstrously expensive films, that will mostly be watched on junky TVs in over-bright rooms or somebody's iPhone on the bus, with all the distractions that implies, can have the same appeal or cachet that the cultural ubiquity afforded by multi-million-dollar ad campaigns and the shared experience of chest-rumbling Dolby subwoofers provides even to cruddy movies.

Yes, the market is changing, and the cultural impact of something like Stranger Things--which, still, is an entirely different experience than a feature-length film--proves that original streaming content can have reach, but $120m seems like a hell of a lot of money to spend on something whose market is limited to the "content to watch a blockbuster-style sci-fi action movie that most people have never heard of on a small screen" crowd.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:44 PM on December 5 [4 favorites]


So why does Bright not feel like a real film?

Actual listing description: "Will Smith stars in this Netflix Original film about a cop forced to partner with an orc."

So, that, basically.
posted by Artw at 12:54 PM on December 5 [7 favorites]


Netflix Original film about a cop forced to partner with an orc

Okay strike the "blockbuster" and "sci-fi" things from my comment and substitute "buddy" and "fantasy" and add some "wtf."
posted by uncleozzy at 12:55 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


The fake Matt Damon movie "The Turgle" is already more entertaining than this movie sounds.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:58 PM on December 5 [2 favorites]


In addition to the movie itself music video shorts are promised.
posted by Artw at 1:03 PM on December 5


Most Will Smith movies I've watched haven't felt like real movies. More like extended fantasy sequences from Fresh Prince where he imagines himself starring in hollywood movies.
posted by mannequito at 1:05 PM on December 5 [23 favorites]


So why does Bright not feel like a real film?

Actual listing description: "Will Smith stars in this Netflix Original film about a cop forced to partner with an orc."

So, that, basically.


The one sentence uninteresting description can be done for everything though:

"Will Smith stars in this 20 Century Fox original film about a fighter pilot forced to partner with a tech geek."

"Will Smith stars in this Touchstone Pictures original film about a lawyer forced to partner with a former intelligence officer."

"Will Smith stars in this Columbia Pictures original film about a film star forced to partner with his son."

I'm not disagreeing that Bright doesn't feel like a real film, but the brief synopsis isn't it I don't think.
posted by nubs at 1:10 PM on December 5 [7 favorites]


Netflix Original film about a cop forced to partner with an orc

That has a such a late 80s, early nineties feel. There were a ton of "cop partnered with ____" movies about twenty five years ago.
posted by octothorpe at 1:12 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


Film has always been about being part of an event.

The worst part about movies has always been all of the other "people" attending these "events".
posted by FatherDagon at 1:26 PM on December 5 [9 favorites]


I dunno, we also had a rash of weird buddy cop TV shows about five years ago-- remember how Sleepy Hollow and Almost Human premiered at the same time? It felt like they'd drawn characters out of a hat. "So, we've got tough lady cop and... resurrected Revolutionary War soldier, cool. Next up, grumpy amputee cop and... robot with too many feelings! Okay guys, let's start writing." This has a little of that feel.
posted by nonasuch at 1:27 PM on December 5 [4 favorites]


Sleepy Hollow was legitimately great until the Fox execs looked up from their coke binges to notice that people were watching it, at which point they started killing off all the black characters.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:30 PM on December 5 [20 favorites]


Regardless of the stars or budget, it's not a movie. It's a short TV series.

I would love love love more short-tv series/miniseries/anthology shows on netflix, and it seems like it would be the perfect vehicle for delivering them. Hell, take a movie and break it up into chapters. I can't often dedicate an evening to a whole movie, but I can watch a single show sometimes.

Shows like The Leftovers, Fargo, and anthology shows like Black Mirror are pretty good examples of this. Even The Wire kind of fits into this a little bit. Each season (or show!) is a different story that ties in (to differing degrees) with the world being presented. I love love love this format, and wish it would be relied on more.

I loathe it when shows drag on for a season too long, or the writers can't figure out how to end the damn thing. Like, what if all of the good parts of Lost were condensed into three seasons and the ending was actually satisfying and tied everything together? It would've been amazing! I hate the need to stretch series on into infinity without an ending in place.

Netflix sitcoms and other shows that come out in 'seasons' are soemtimes hard to follow without a refresher (even a full rewatch), especially as you get further out from the original air date. During the last season of House of Cards, both my wife and I were a bit lost because we had forgotten certain details that happened in S1. We don't binge shows, but we do watch them with relative rapid succession (one every other night or so, until the available episodes are exhausted).
posted by furnace.heart at 1:30 PM on December 5 [6 favorites]


That has a such a late 80s, early nineties feel. There were a ton of "cop partnered with ____" movies about twenty five years ago.

My favorite one was Enemy Mine where the cop got issued his partner after beating an arcade game. They teamed up to stop the old dude from City Slippers who was doing some nefarious real estate deeds. The crime dog, Hoots, was always my favorite, especially the scene where he almost spilled salt water on the alien cop (salt water got them drunk).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:31 PM on December 5 [14 favorites]


I would love love love more short-tv series/miniseries/anthology shows on netflix, and it seems like it would be the perfect vehicle for delivering them. Hell, take a movie and break it up into chapters.

So, oddly enough, that's more or less exactly what happened with Godless. For all its flaws (most of which just come down to a bait-in-switch in the way it was sold), I think it works a lot better as the 8-hour "limited series" it is than the 2-3 hour film it was supposed to be.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:32 PM on December 5


The "data points" in this article are fucking risible. Comparing searches for Jumanji, a film which has existed in another version for more than 20 years, and failing to do anything to disambiguate the data? Comparing entirely statistically insignificant differences between Twitter followers (and failing to note that even a film as ultimately unsatisfactory as Robin Williams' Jumanji will have die hard fans desperate for a reboot to love or hate)?

I don't even know what a "real movie" is, but I do know what someone trying far too hard to look like a 'Hollywood insider' looks like. At least I do now.
posted by howfar at 1:34 PM on December 5 [7 favorites]


But chances are unless you saw it when it first came out, or were enticed to, you're not likely to today.

This is 100% the opposite of my experience with VOD, which is entirely about watching garbage I never would have expended any money or effort to see in the theatre.
posted by Shepherd at 1:38 PM on December 5 [11 favorites]


Yeah, I've got to say that this is Shadowrun and this is the best that I can expect to see ever close to that genre since 'Dungeons and Dragons' hasn't made a good movie, 'Warcraft' was a flop despite excellent source material, a fleshed-out world and storyline (going back to WC1). Assassin's Creed was crap. Percy Jackson was forgettable. Modern day myth and high fantasy franchise myth are pretty hard to roll on. So GURPS isn't likely to inspire any coherent Movie identifiable as GURPS. Rift has basically the same problem, plus people misattributing whatever it is to the MMORPG...

So this though? Given Will Smith was one of the only dynamic performances by being himself in Suicide Squad, I think I can enjoy this rare piece of film made.

I'm not expecting this to be wonderful and perfect and the greatest film ever made. Instead, I am expecting this to be 11 hours short of a show I wish was a series.
posted by Nanukthedog at 1:40 PM on December 5 [5 favorites]


Mudbound is very good. It didn't entirely feel like a real movie to me either, but I'm not entirely sure what a "real movie" is supposed to feel like anymore. It felt more like a really good TV drama, which is not a bad thing.
posted by Loudmax at 1:44 PM on December 5 [4 favorites]


I did giggle when I heard this movie called Straight Outta Tolkien.
posted by BeeDo at 2:16 PM on December 5 [11 favorites]


Oddly Amazon Studios doesn't seem to suffer from this problem at all. That said, they will always do at least a token theatrical release.
posted by Artw at 2:19 PM on December 5


Thanks to my video cassette recorder I can now watch Hollywood movies at home, and there’s a noticeable difference between them and standard TV productions.

Standard TV productions have always been composed to work well on tiny little screens. Cinema releases, not so much.
posted by flabdablet at 2:21 PM on December 5


Mudbound didn't have anything to do with Netflix until after it was produced. They bought the rights to it after the movie premiered at Sundance in January.
posted by octothorpe at 2:21 PM on December 5


Trailer looks fun IMO.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:21 PM on December 5


Mudbound didn't have anything to do with Netflix until after it was produced.

This is true of the vast majority of Netflix Originals, FWIW.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:27 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


Is trashing a movie the new way of promoting a movie?
posted by Beholder at 2:34 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


I'm not disagreeing that Bright doesn't feel like a real film, but the brief synopsis isn't it I don't think.

No? Because it's basically They Fight Crime. (And wasn't that also pretty much Suicide Squad? "Will Smith stars in this Warner Bros. original film about a guy who shoots real good forced to partner with a bunch of other crooks and weirdos." In fact, what I got when I loaded TFC sounds better: "He's an immortal native American astronaut with a robot buddy named Sparky. She's an orphaned streetsmart snake charmer with someone else's memories. They fight crime!" This thing sounds like the urban fantasy version of Alien Nation.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:40 PM on December 5 [2 favorites]


I don't think Suicide Squad felt like much of a real movie to me, either, so I'm not sure this holds up that much--I think there are many movies that aren't really great movies but they're still movies, we just don't notice them that much. If Netflix was making some great movies and some movies like this that were maybe fun but weren't amazing, then nobody would question that Netflix could make great movies. Expecting a movie better than Suicide Squad from this when it's done by the same guy who did Suicide Squad seems silly. Not that it can't be better, but I wouldn't give it amazing odds, and I also won't say that it feels like it's going to be less of a movie for that. As long as I'm only comparing to movies that I might potentially now be watching on my television, it doesn't seem at all weird to say it's a movie, and I do that all the time.

It doesn't seem like it's going to compare to a bunch of things currently or recently or soon to be in theaters, but maybe that's just because, again, Suicide Squad wouldn't compare that favorably in that even if you could go see it as the multiplex again today. Which is all to say, I think they figure out how to talk a director who's Oscar-worthy into doing this before they want it to be regarded as the source for Serious Film, but I'm not questioning that it's a movie.
posted by Sequence at 2:43 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Suicide Squad was a big old eventy thing though. And dewspite being a mess promoted like and shaped like a movie.

Though I am aware of Bright I basically forget that it's a movie and not a TV show and only remmeber that each time it is mentioned.
posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on December 5


I love Netflix shows/movies, because they are the ONLY streaming service that supports non-North American-language subtitles. Everyone else has them (because they show their content in other countries) but restricts subtitles to the geographic area where the language is common for some reason (possibly related to licenses, I don't know).

So the only stuff my wife and I can watch together without importing it from Japan is Netflix shows or shows that Netflix acquires and provides subtitles for (finally got to watch The Good Place due to this, for example).

So far Netflix is basically 100% on providing worldwide (at least "every country where Netflix exists") subtitles, so I can be pretty sure we can watch any of their stuff.
posted by thefoxgod at 2:57 PM on December 5 [8 favorites]


I feel like this article touches on issues that are the industry/box-office-or-television-equivalent fun-house-mirror-version of the artistic "[x TV show] isn't really TV; it's a long movie" critical response in which people (Netflix in the industry instance, snobby film critics/their fanboys in the artistic side) don't really consider the industry/artistic difference between making something for TV and a movie (no matter where it's released).

However the difference is with Netflix, it's because the medium is very similar to things that already existed but there's no real way to measure its impact except echos through pop culture chambers (which are also relatively new because of the impact of social media on pop culture discussion and what's "hot or not"; e.g. the pop culture literati aren't tweeting about NCIS but millions more are watching it than probably anything they are); people are snobby about film vs. TV because they are 70 year old directors or their fans and they think calling something "a film for TV" rather than just "a TV show" means something in 2017, even though pretty much any right minded person realizes that TV has just as "real movies" when comparing the two most popular types of "art that's moving pictures."

* [x TV show] = most recently the return of Twin Peaks, which is why I pick on my and MetaFilter's beloved David Lynch.

It's all new and all interesting to me, both from the industry and an artistic perspective, and I'd love to hear what people as smart or smarter than me (e.g. you all) have to say about it, as much or more than I care about another Will Smith movie I won't watch on purpose but would probably enjoy if I accidentally came across it on television. (which won't happen on Netflix because the choice to start a movie is different than scrolling through the channels even though they require the same amount of button pressing but a different psychological commitment, which is a whole other (interesting to me) discussion).
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:05 PM on December 5 [4 favorites]


Alien Nation called and they want their idea back.
posted by mrbill at 3:35 PM on December 5 [6 favorites]


I haven't watched a lot of the Netflix movies, but what I have watched has been pretty great. I think it is a good platform for genre films, like VOD. Stuff like Adam Scott starring comedy-horror or existential action films. Not Real Movies maybe but certainly movies that you can enjoy without worrying enough to pause to feed the cat or use the bathroom. The prestige TV series are so breathless and ponderous that I feel stressed out watching unless I can give them my full attention, so I avoid them until there's a big chunk of time to set aside, which is vanishingly rare. I would appreciate more stand alone movies with strong visions and low to medium budgets filling in the gaps that comic book movies have replaced in the mainstream movie market.
posted by kittensofthenight at 3:40 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


I don't see how watching this particular movie on Netflix is any different than watching any other, non-Netflix-specific movie. I mean, yeah, I watch a lot of TV on Netflix, but I also watch movies too.
posted by sarcasticah at 3:45 PM on December 5 [5 favorites]


The difference is that Netflix paid $120 million for this particular movie and isn’t going to recoup any of that from selling tickets.
posted by roger ackroyd at 3:56 PM on December 5 [2 favorites]


I just watched the trailer; I'm not the target demographic, but it seems like the sort of movie that would happen if you fed a bunch of conceits into a machine-learning algorithm and then asked it to generate its own:

[x] Racial tensions
[x] High fantasy elements
[x] Buddy cop
[x] Men in Black
[x] Chase scene
[ ] Magic wand that makes you shorter if you want -- ok, that one is the bug in the software
posted by basalganglia at 4:03 PM on December 5 [6 favorites]


OK, so maybe we are the problem here.

These movies don't seem like Hollywood blockbusters because they AREN'T! Big studios are afraid to make movies that are different from each other in any way, and this sameness is a bug, not a feature. Netflix makes a bunch of movies where directors have complete control, the movies are different than the bland Hollywood fare, and then we complain that Netflix movies are lacking blockbuster qualities. Good on them, I say.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:12 PM on December 5 [20 favorites]


I thought people of taste and discretion had all agreed Hollywood was garbage, who cares if anything isn't "real Hollywood"?
posted by chiquitita at 5:52 PM on December 5 [2 favorites]


Something he doesn't mention at fucking all is that Hollywood movies, increasingly over the past 20 years, pin all their profitability on opening weekend box office. So there should absolutely be more buzz before a Hollywood movie (and "risible" is a great term for the "data" "analysis" he uses to show this). Netflix has no need for opening box office; they seem to do better the more word of mouth can spread about their shows. They dominate the standup special medium now, which is the exact sort of thing that builds with buzz. They don't need a big opening box office weekend, so it makes sense that they don't market for one.

The more important flip side of this is, marketing is a ridiculous amount of studio spending -- I've heard an estimate that it's 50% of the production costs on average. I've heard about Jumanji and not about Bright in part because when I went to see Thor, the studio paid a bunch of money for the movie theatre to show the Jumanji trailer to their captive audience. Would I have heard about Bright without this article? Absolutely; the week it's released, it'll be the top suggestion on Netflix for both me and my girlfriend, who hates cop movies as much as she hates orc movies. And we're paying Netflix for the privilege. The movie business is such a hit-and-miss affair, but if you could reliably make movies for 2/3 the cost of your competitors, it seems like you could do well in the long run. As Netflix opts out of the movie marketing game, then they get this advantage automatically and forever.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:09 PM on December 5 [10 favorites]


I thought part of what the article was trying to get at, and not doing very well, was the idea that the release of a movie on Netflix doesn't feel like an event in the same way a theatrical release does, even these days. For one thing, there are movies and TV shows coming and going all the time on Netflix, so a big-ticket original release ends up being part of the churn with second-rate sequels from the 90s and a sudden influx of South Korean TV. As if the cineplex this weekend were playing the big new movie (say, Infinity War) right alongside Porky's II and reruns of Mama's Family.

Also, to me, a Netflix release date doesn't suggest to me that I make a point of watching that thing on that day. It's more a mental note that, on or after that day, I can watch it whenever I want. Perhaps part of the problem is indeed promotion, because I suppose if I were excited enough about something, I would want to watch it the day of release.

I don't go to many movies in the theater, in part because I've been very sick for the past three years and it takes more energy than I have. But, in the past, my family has had movies we were excited about seeing together when they came out in the theater, and that we were willing to set aside other things on that day to see. With Netflix, even if a bunch of us want to see it, it's not all that common for us to all want to see it, and have nothing better to do, on the same time at the same day. For our family, it's hard to make a movie at home into an event. (All but one of our kids are teenagers and up now, so this probably is part of the dynamic.)

I guess it is about promotion, because if they want me, personally, to treat a Netflix release like a theatrical release, to feel like a Netflix release is more like a theatrical release, something about how the event is presented to me has to change, as does something about how I experience TV and movies. Perhaps people my age and up (who remember black & white TVs, the widespread introduction of cable TV, and the exciting new thing that was the VHS player) just need to die off and make room for people who've always experienced the media the way it is now.
posted by Orlop at 6:09 PM on December 5


Are there not billboards like _everywhere_ advertising Netflix shows in most of the country?

I live in Hollywood so my perception of film/TV related advertising is horribly skewed (we actually have major billboards urging people to vote for something for an Academy Award, which is a total global audience of ~6000 people). But just on the way to/from work I see billboards for The Crown, Stranger Things (like absolutely everywhere), etc.

So while I assume a lot of their advertising is cheaper given that advertising on Netflix itself is "free", they still seem to spend a bunch of money on marketing their shows/movies.
posted by thefoxgod at 6:24 PM on December 5


I live in Hollywood so my perception of film/TV related advertising is horribly skewed

Yes. A majority of ads you see in Hollywood aren't ones you see anywhere else, including the ones promoting some random vanity project. It's a weird alternate reality.
posted by bongo_x at 6:49 PM on December 5 [4 favorites]


Are there not billboards like _everywhere_ advertising Netflix shows in most of the country?

No but we seldom get any movie ads on billboards. I was surprised at how many I saw when I was in the Bay Area but they're pretty rare here.
posted by octothorpe at 6:58 PM on December 5


I think Netflix makes a huge mistake by not allowing their original content to be in theaters. Amazon has the edge for long-form films by premiering them in theaters before bringing them to prime video. It also allows them to gain "prestige" for being oscar/awards worthy.

I had no idea The Handmaiden, Neon Demon and The Big Sick were made by Amazon until they came to prime video in the originals tab. Those were all films down at my multiplex and just that little thing gives them a lot more legitimacy for me than netflix originals. I had no idea Bright was a big-budget film with a director who has done big budget stuff. I kinda assumed it was a relatively low budget Will Smith self-funded vanity project.

Part of it is that netflix has poor marketing for these projects, I only know Bright because netflix sends me spam emails, but I think a ton of people, even the "cord cutter" generation think being in an actual theater has more prestige than direct-to-video.
posted by M Edward at 8:05 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


I suspect some of those may be buy ins. The Handmaiden, certainly.
posted by Artw at 8:26 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


I was writing Homeboy Trouble’s comment in my head before I saw it. Netflix doesn’t need buzz the way a theatrical release or even an ad-supported-network TV show does. Marketing strategy and spend is and should be different. Most of Netflix’s great cultural and critical successes have been slow burns ... much more Stranger Things and Bojack Horsemans than big flash.

What Netflix knows is that the days of it getting any amount of content produced by major studios owners or their affiliates is fast coming to an end. Every studio and network family will have its own outright or shared steaming service(s) and suite of premium, basic and (four of them) broadcast networks and they will license very little out of house. They have to start to make feautures in a serious way and are willing to experiment a bit. Or maybe they’ll just buy Sony’s studios — the odd man out of the studio owners in distribution terms — and be done with it.
posted by MattD at 8:49 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Netflix can do whatever the hell it wants as long as it continues to feed me a steady diet of British Procedurals.

Please, sir, can I have some mOOOOORE?
posted by lastobelus at 10:29 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


I watch most movies at home. I've been aware of Bright for months, since the teaser trailer came out. I've watched the proper trailer several times since that came out, and I've actively been looking forward to seeing it: quasi-Shadowrun cop buddy movie? Yes please! More like this!

That's a lot more than I can say for a whole lot of "real" movies with upcoming cinema releases.

I mean, sure, it doesn't "feel" like a big-budget movie with a cinema release. It "feels" more like a made-for-TV movie or an indie film that gets bounced around film festivals for years before I get a chance to see it. But I'm not sure if that's a problem.

Is it a problem for Netflix? I have no idea. I assume that they're banking on recouping the costs over several years of viewing rather than a burst of early ticket sales.
posted by confluency at 10:45 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Plus Netflix has to develop a deep catalogue of content that can't be taken away to convince people to keep up their subscriptions.

Joe in Australia: "Trailer looks fun IMO."

That's what I thought.
posted by Mitheral at 10:54 PM on December 5


The trailer looks *fantastic* and I am pumped for this nonsense to be delivered to my eyeballs
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:36 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


although both me and my wife thought it was a trailer for a new tv series, not a movie, which from reading the comments here is nothing like the thesis of this article I didn't read. But could be, given the text here.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:38 AM on December 6


Alien Nation called and they want their idea back.

I think Bright looks adorably ridiculous but yeah, give me streaming of the Alien Nation series. Rounds of sour milk and raw beaver for everyone.
posted by Ber at 10:45 AM on December 6


Netflix To Debut ‘Annihilation’ Internationally 17 Days After U.S. Release

So no proper US release and it doesn't even get a UK release. I;m a bit more concerned by that than Bright TBH.
posted by Artw at 12:33 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


This doesn't feel like a "real" Hollywood movie because this sort of nonsense wouldn't get picked up by "real" big-budget studio because it's incredibly niche. Like, the Venn diagram of people who like buddy cop movies and people who like generic fantasy movies is very small. Hell, I don't even think it's a Venn diagram. I hate "realistic" buddy cop movies and I'm bored by generic fantasy, but take literally any generic fantasy trope and throw in a buddy cop dynamic? I am ALL. OVER. THAT.

I hadn't heard about this before but now I'm so pumped I want to go wake up my partner, who is sleeping because they are very ill, and if they weren't very ill and were just sleeping I would definitely wake them up and show them the trailer, because they would also be all over this nonsense. Seriously, magic buddy cops is one of our FAVORITE tropes, and it pretty much only comes up in fanfiction and obscure indie novels. So probably another reason this doesn't feel like a "real" movie is because I didn't think we lived in a world where I would ever see this ridiculous niche trope as a full length non-indie movie (with Will Smith, of all people).

Bright has a high probability of being terrible, but also a high probability of being a lot of fun. If their audience truly is the magic buddy cops fans, then it can probably be both terrible and a lot of fun and we'll adore it. I don't think anybody likes the trope for it being good or deep or well-written. It's just fun nonsense, dammit.

I don't know if Netflix is going to see much of a pay-off from this movie, but if not I think it's going to be because of how niche the audience is (and how poorly I think it'll translate to people outside the niche; lots of niche genres can still be enjoyed by people unfamiliar with the niche, but I'm not sure magic buddy cops is one of them), not because of it not feeling "real."

Also, I kind of low-key think/hope that it was just one person's dream to make an urban fantasy buddy cop movie and they don't care how well it does as long as it's out there, but admittedly I'm not sure how they would convince Netflix to spend $120 million on that... unless everyone at Netflix is also a nerd.
posted by brook horse at 1:17 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


I'm amazed the comparison here is with Jumanji (2017) instead of I, Robot, which is the exact same movie. Will Smith? Check. Cop with non-human partner? Check. Production cost ~$120 million? Check!

And certainly I, Robot seems in my memory to have been "part of the cultural conversation" in a way that Bright is not. At the very least, people in my circles would ask if you were going to see it (I didn't), or what they thought of it, and no one has mentioned Bright in my presence. Now a lot of that is the (lack of) connection to Asimov's stories, but still, it was a Thing at the time in a way that no Netflix film has been yet. Beast of No Nation got close; but that was supposed to be Oscar-bait level and it certainly didn't hit The Conversation at that level either.

The TV stuff, judging from memes and thinkpieces etc., hits with the same cultural impact as any niche TV show - people talk as much about Luke Cage as they do about, say, Arrow. So it's not like Netflix can't generate cultural buzz, they just haven't been able to do it in a 90-minute package.

I tend to think that points toward what cinema will become in the streaming era - this is a medium that best fits a contained story (so not a soap opera or crime-of-the-week procedural) that plays out over 4-8 hours (ahem, Marvel series please note) rather than 2ish. "Feature-length" could become a term people still use for a 90-minute filmed entertainment without remembering why it's called that, kind of like dialing the phone or cranking an engine.
posted by five toed sloth at 1:34 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


I'm actually really looking forward to Bright. The ridiculously prolific Max Landis (who wrote the original script) explains the premise to Kevin Smith. There was a bidding war back in early 2016, when people were anticipating that Suicide Squad (also starring Will Smith, directed by David Ayer) would be a big hit. (Which it kind of was?) I know Landis isn't that popular here, but I think he's actually pretty good at character development.

If Bright does well (in terms of audience), it's regarded as a potential franchise, not a one-off.

The original article is definitely correct in that Netflix is not doing the same kind of marketing campaign that you would see for a theatrical release - there's a trailer that includes some promotional material with the actors, but I'd be surprised to see them actually going out and doing interviews.
posted by russilwvong at 3:12 PM on December 6




Artw, I would like to subscribe to your newsletter
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:14 PM on December 7 [1 favorite]


If I'm reading that right, then the Netflix deal happened in lieu of the focus-tested makeover that the fucking Geostorm guy wanted. I hope I'm reading it right.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:42 PM on December 7


I was thinking it was related to Blade Runner flopping. That fucking Geostorm comes into the pciture... wow.
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on December 7


(Geostorm absolutely doesn't count as a real movie)
posted by Artw at 1:45 PM on December 7


Mefi's own more positive Netflix related news: Netflix Grabs Hold Of John Scalzi’s Sci-Fi Novel ‘Old Man’s War’ For Jon Shestack, Madhouse

(Though I'd argue the later books are the ones that make the series really worthwhile. )
posted by Artw at 1:56 PM on December 7 [2 favorites]


I saw the preview for Geostorm when I saw Blade Runner, and it made me feel like "Yeah, maybe we deserve all this."
posted by bongo_x at 3:37 PM on December 7 [1 favorite]


Since Annihilation came up and the old thread for that one is already archived, here's a new trailer.

It definitely looks more "actiony" than the book was, at least in the trailer cut. How much of that is standard trailer deception and how much is due to the above-mentioned executive meddling remains to be seen, I suppose.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:30 AM on December 13 [1 favorite]


Heh. It's like the Geostorm dude got to the trailer.
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on December 13


Interview
posted by Artw at 4:45 PM on December 13


Looks like a whole lot of Aliens in that new trailer.
posted by octothorpe at 6:45 PM on December 13


Yeah, that's unfortunate.
posted by Artw at 6:52 PM on December 13


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