Bright (film)

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Official release poster
Directed byDavid Ayer
Written byMax Landis
Produced by
CinematographyRoman Vasyanov
Edited byMichael Tronick
Music byDavid Sardy
  • Trigger Warning Entertainment[1]
  • Grand Electric[1]
Distributed byNetflix
Release dates
Running time
118 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$90–106.2 million[2][3]

Bright is a 2017 American urban fantasy action film[4][5] directed by David Ayer and written by Max Landis. The film is set in an alternate present in which humans and mythical creatures co-exist and details an LAPD police officer (portrayed by Will Smith) and his orc partner (Joel Edgerton) confronting racism and police corruption while protecting a magic wand and the elf girl (Lucy Fry) who wields it. Noomi Rapace, Édgar Ramírez, and Ike Barinholtz also star.

Principal photography began in November 2016 in Los Angeles. The film was released worldwide on Netflix on December 22, 2017. While it has received largely negative reviews from critics,[6][7] it was exceptionally popular with viewers. Netflix called it one of the company's most successful original programs as of January 2018.[8][9]


Humans coexist with other sentient species, notably orcs and elves. While magic is real, its practice is illegal. Magic wands exist, but only a few individuals called "Brights" can wield them without dying.

In Los Angeles, veteran officer Daryl Ward is involuntarily partnered with Nick Jakoby, America's first orc police officer. Jakoby is equally detested by the other officers for his race and his fellow orcs for being a policeman. Ward's relationship with Jakoby is strained since Ward was shot by an orc robber Jakoby failed to apprehend; Internal Affairs suspects Jakoby deliberately let him go.

One night, Ward and Jakoby respond to a disturbance at a safe house for the "Shield of Light", an extremist group that prophesies the return of the "Dark Lord", an ancient semi-mythical figure defeated millennia ago. The lone survivor, an elf girl named Tikka, has a wand. Ward calls for backup, but when the four arriving officers see the wand, they try to coerce Ward into killing Jakoby and letting them steal it for themselves.

Ward goes outside, demanding the truth about the robber. Jakoby admits he lost sight of Ward's assailant and mistakenly apprehended a younger orc, who he then helped flee, knowing that the police would probably kill the boy on sight. When the four officers appear behind Ward, planning to kill both him and Jakoby, Ward guns them down. The gunfire attracts the attention of a Hispanic gang, while rumors of the wand draw the attentions of both its owner Leilah, the leader of the radical elf sect the Inferni, and Kandomere, an elf FBI agent assigned to the federal "Magic Task Force".

The gangsters corner the trio in a strip club, but are slaughtered by Leilah, allowing the trio to escape. At a service station, Ward contacts his friend, Deputy Sheriff Rodriguez. Rodriguez contacts Kandomere, but Leilah intercepts their conversation. While attacking the service station, she kills Rodriguez.

Escaping again, the trio is captured by the Fogteeth Orcs, whose leader Dorghu also wants the wand. He orders his son Mikey to kill Jakoby. Being the orc that Jakoby saved, Mikey refuses to kill him. Sending his son away, Dorghu kills Jakoby himself. As he prepares to kill Ward, Tikka uses the wand to resurrect Jakoby, showing she is a Bright. The Fogteeth's shaman pronounces this to be part of a prophecy, causing the clan to kneel to them, setting them free. Tikka explains that the Inferni believe that assembling three wands will allow them to resurrect the Dark Lord. She was once a member of the Inferni but fled the group and was sheltered by the Shield of Light. Leilah loaned her wand to a Bright assassin to kill Tikka. Tikka killed the assassin, taking the wand.

Using the wand to resurrect Jakoby made Tikka gravely ill, and she can only be healed in a magical pool at the safe house. Returning there, they are ambushed by Leilah and her enforcers. In the confrontation, Leilah's guards are killed, but she holds Tikka helpless as Ward and Jakoby run out of ammunition. Ward grabs the wand, believing that the resulting explosion will kill all of them. To everyone's amazement, Ward does not die, revealing he is a Bright. He kills Leilah with the wand, triggering an explosion that sets the building on fire. Tikka disappears, and the injured Ward and Jakoby escape the building with Jakoby leading the way. After exiting, he realizes Ward is not with him and is trapped inside. Casting aside first responders, Jakoby charges back into the building, pulling his partner from the flames and debris just in time. This act of bravery is witnessed by the Fogteeth clan, and Dorghu 'bloods' Jakoby (a mark of great respect within Orc society).

In the hospital, Ward and Jakoby, understanding that the FBI want any hint of magical activity kept secret, give Kandomere a doctored account of the previous night's events. Kandomere realizes what is going on but accepts their tale nonetheless.

In a public ceremony, Jakoby and Ward are celebrated as heroes, and Rodriguez's memory is honored. Ward smiles as he spots Tikka moving through the crowd in disguise.


  • Will Smith as Daryl Ward, a human LAPD officer.
  • Joel Edgerton as Nick Jakoby, the nation's first orc police officer who is partnered with Daryl.
  • Noomi Rapace as Leilah, an Inferni elf seeking control of the magic wand.
  • Lucy Fry as Tikka, a young Inferni elf who is in possession of the magic wand.
  • Édgar Ramírez as Kandomere, a high ranking elvish federal agent with the US Department of Magic's Magic Task Force.
  • Ike Barinholtz as Pollard, a corrupt human LAPD officer who seeks to steal the wand for himself.
  • Happy Anderson as Hildebrandt Ulysses Montehugh, a human federal agent who works under Kandomere in the Magic Task Force.
  • Dawn Olivieri as Sherri Ward, Daryl's human wife and Sophia's mother.
  • Matt Gerald as Hicks, a corrupt human LAPD officer.
  • Margaret Cho as Ching, a corrupt human LAPD sergeant.
  • Brad William Henke as Dorghu, the imposing leader of the Fogteeth Orcs gang.
  • Jay Hernandez as Rodriguez, a human LASD deputy.
  • Veronica Ngo as Tien, an Inferni elf enforcer working for Leilah.
  • Alex Meraz as Serafin, an Inferni elf enforcer working for Leilah.
  • Nadia Gray as Larika, an elf assassin working for Leilah.
  • Joseph Piccuirro as Brown, a corrupt human LAPD officer.
  • Enrique Murciano as Poison, the crippled leader of the human Altamira gang who uses a wheelchair.
  • Scarlet Spencer as Sophia Ward, Daryl and Sherri's human daughter.
  • Andrea Navedo as Perez, a human LAPD captain and Ward's superior.
  • Kenneth Choi as Yamahara, a human LAPD internal affairs detective.
  • Bobby Naderi as Arkashian, a human LAPD internal affairs detective.
  • Cle Shaheed Sloan as OG Mike, the Wards' human neighbor.
  • Chris Browning as Serling, a human questioned by the US Department of Magic's Task Force.
  • Joe Rogan as himself, he is seen interviewing an orc about Jakoby.


(L–R): Director David Ayer and stars Noomi Rapace, Joel Edgerton, Will Smith, Édgar Ramírez, and Lucy Fry at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con

Described as "a contemporary cop thriller, but with fantastical elements", the film was directed by David Ayer and stars Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, with a script penned by Max Landis, which Ayer rewrote.[10][11] Netflix officially picked up the film for a $90 million deal with filming beginning in fall 2016, making it the most expensive Netflix film to date.[12] Noomi Rapace entered talks to join the cast in May 2016.[13] Landis stated in an interview that official production was expected to begin in September 2016, but that they had already shot a small part in Los Angeles.[14] Ayer's frequent cinematographer, Roman Vasyanov, was confirmed to be working on the project.[15] On October 15, 2016, Lucy Fry was added to the cast.[16] On October 17, 2016, Andrea Navedo was added to the cast.[17] On October 20, 2016, actor Brad William Henke was cast in the film.[18] On November 1, 2016, Kenneth Choi and Dawn Olivieri were cast in an unnamed role and the role of Smith's wife, respectively.[19] On November 9, Édgar Ramírez was confirmed to be added to the cast.[20] That same month, Alex Meraz, Matt Gerald, Ike Barinholtz and Enrique Murciano joined the cast of the film in undisclosed roles.[21][22][23][24]


Photos from the set were first published in November 2016.[25] Filming was completed by February 4, 2017.[26]


Critical response[edit]

Bright received criticism for its screenplay, cinematography, poor worldbuilding, and excessive focus on social commentary.[6] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 26% based on 113 reviews, with an average rating of 4.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Bright tries to blend fantasy, hard-hitting cop drama, and social commentary—and ends up falling painfully short of the mark on all three fronts."[27] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 29 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[28]

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 1.5 out of 4 stars, saying: "Bright is basically a tired buddy-cop movie dressed up in bizarre trappings ... It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s not nearly as self-deprecating and funny as it needed to be."[29] Writing for Rolling Stone, David Fear gave the film 1 out of 4 stars, criticizing the script and incoherent action scenes, writing: "This combo of gritty cop procedural and fantasy is a dark, dank, dumb-as-hell mess."[30]

David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film an "F" and called it the worst film of 2017, saying: "There's boring, there's bad, and then there's Bright ... from the director of Suicide Squad and the writer of Victor Frankenstein comes a fresh slice of hell that somehow represents new lows for them both—a dull and painfully derivative ordeal that often feels like it was made just to put those earlier misfires into perspective."[31] Ayer responded enthusiastically to Ehrlich's review, claiming that he desired for the film to receive "a strong reaction either way."[32]

NPR's Chris Klimek wrote: "Critics have already lined up to pillory Bright as among the year's worst releases. Don't believe the clickbait. Lazy but not boring, this Net-flick is perfectly, stubbornly mediocre, and less a chore to sit through than either of 2017's Vin Diesel vehicles."[33]

Audience response[edit]

Several publications noted that while critics were harsh in their assessment of the film, viewers liked it and gave positive reactions on social media.[34][35][36][37] Netflix announced that the film had been viewed more times in its first week than any of its other releases.[38] According to Nielsen ratings, about 11 million American viewers streamed Bright within the first three days of its release, with 56% of the audience being male and 7 million being between the ages of 18 and 49.[39]

In January 2018 Netflix reported that the popularity of Bright gave "a major lift" to the company's revenue and number of new subscribers in the last quarter of 2017.[8] CEO Reed Hastings stated, "The critics are pretty disconnected from the mass appeal...[they] are an important part of the artistic process but are pretty disconnected from the commercial prospects of a film. If people are watching this movie and loving it, that's the measurement of success."[40]


Bright: The Album
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedDecember 15, 2017 (2017-12-15)
Singles from Bright: The Album
  1. "World Gone Mad"
    Released: November 21, 2017[41]
  2. "Home"
    Released: December 5, 2017[42]

The soundtrack, titled Bright: The Album, was released under Atlantic Records on December 15, 2017, just a week before the official release of the film on December 22, 2017. It features songs performed by various artists including Future, Camila Cabello, Logic, Marshmello, Ty Dolla Sign, Bebe Rexha, Lil Uzi Vert, Snoop Dogg, and X Ambassadors.

Bright: The Album[43]
1."Broken People" (Logic and Rag'n'Bone Man)
2."World Gone Mad" (Bastille)3:16
3."Home" (Machine Gun Kelly, X Ambassadors and Bebe Rexha)
  • David Pramik
  • Phelps
4."Crown" (Camila Cabello and Grey)3:21
5."Darkside" (Ty Dolla Sign and Future featuring Kiiara)
  • Wiklund
  • AC
  • Andrew Bolooki
6."Danger" (Migos and Marshmello)3:34
7."That's My N---a" (Meek Mill, YG and Snoop Dogg)
  • Viruss Beats
8."Smoke My Dope" (Steve Aoki and Lil Uzi Vert)
9."FTW (F--k the World)" (ASAP Rocky and Tom Morello)2:23
10."Cheer Up" (Portugal. The Man)2:46
11."Hares on the Mountain" (alt-J)
  • Traditional
12."Campfire" (DRAM and Neil Young)
13."This Land Is Your Land" (Sam Hunt)2:34
Total length:42:50


Chart (2017–18) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[44] 85
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[45] 13
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[46] 92
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[47] 18
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[48] 97
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[49] 24
US Billboard 200[50] 48
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[51] 28


Scrapped sequel[edit]

In December 2017, Netflix ordered a sequel.[52] The following month, Netflix confirmed the sequel was moving ahead, with Smith and Edgerton reprising their roles and Ayer directing and writing the script with Evan Spiliotopoulos.[38] In August 2018, it was announced the film would begin filming in March 2019 in Germany.[53] In September 2019, Lucy Fry revealed that production had been delayed, citing Smith's busy schedule.[54] In May 2020, it was reported that Netflix had entered negotiations with Louis Leterrier, director of The Incredible Hulk and Now You See Me, to direct the sequel.[55] In April 2022, following Smith's altercation with Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, Netflix scrapped the film.[56]

Anime spin-off[edit]

In June 2021, Netflix announced that an anime spin-off film called Bright: Samurai Soul would be produced. It was announced that Kyōhei Ishiguro would direct the film, with Michiko Yokote writing the film's script, Atsushi Yamagata designing the characters, and Arect animating the film. The film premiered on October 12, 2021.[57]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ Ng, David (July 31, 2017). "Netflix is carrying $20 billion in debt. Can it keep borrowing its way to success?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  3. ^ Film and Television Tax Credit Program Program 2.0 (PDF) (Report). California Film Commission. November 2018. p. 20. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 19, 2019. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  4. ^ "How the 'Bright' Stunt Team Created Gritty, Realistic Action in a World of Mystical Mayhem". Men's Journal. February 20, 2020. The $90 million fantasy-action film is a major bet for Netflix, and one they hope will be a precursor to more big-budget movies in the future.
  5. ^ Webster, Andy (December 21, 2017). "Review: 'Bright' Has Fairies, Orcs, Elves and L.A. Cops, but Little Magic". The New York Times. Retrieved December 21, 2017. With the buddy-cop fantasy "Bright," Will Smith and the director David Ayer attempt to chart new territory: an urban action film populated not only by humans but also fantastical creatures like centaurs, fairies, orcs and elves.
  6. ^ a b Beck, Kellen (December 22, 2017). "Poor Will Smith! Critics tore apart Netflix's first hopeful blockbuster, 'Bright'". Mashable. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  7. ^ Rodriguez, Ashley (January 24, 2018). "Netflix explains why a movie like "Bright" can bomb with critics and kill with audiences". Retrieved March 18, 2019./
  8. ^ a b Chmielewski, Dawn C. (January 22, 2018), "Netflix reports fourth-quarter earnings beat estimates, thanks to 'The Crown' and 'Bright'", Deadline, retrieved July 28, 2023
  9. ^ Nolan, Lloyd (January 22, 2018), "Bright is one of Netflix's most-viewed original titles, ever", Comic Book Resources, retrieved July 28, 2023
  10. ^ Goldberg, Matt (March 2, 2016). "David Ayer to Direct Will Smith and Joel Edgerton in Fantastical Cop Flick 'Bright'". Collider. Complex Media. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  11. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 3, 2016). "William Smith, David Ayer Reteaming on Max Landis Spec 'Bright'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  12. ^ Goldberg, Matt (March 18, 2016). "Netflix Makes Mammoth Deal for David Ayer's 'Bright' Starring Will Smith". Collider. Complex Media. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  13. ^ Ankers, Adele (May 19, 2016). "Noomi Rapace in Talks to Join Will Smith in David Ayer's Bright". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  14. ^ Trumbore, Dave (July 25, 2016). "Watch: Max Landis Hopes 'Bright' Will Be His 'Star Wars'". Collider. Complex Media. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  15. ^ James, Daron (August 19, 2016). "Why DP Roman Vasyanov Chose Anamorphic & More Tales from Shooting 'Suicide Squad'". No Film School. NONETWORK. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  16. ^ Kit, Borys (October 11, 2016). "David Ayer's 'Bright' Lands 'Mr. Church' Actress Lucy Fry". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  17. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (October 17, 2016). "David Ayer-Helmed Thriller 'Bright' Adds Andrea Navedo; Austin Hébert Cast In 'Burden'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  18. ^ Kroll, Justin (October 18, 2016). "'Orange Is the New Black' Actor Brad William Henke Joins Will Smith in 'Bright'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  19. ^ Briers, Michael (October 2016). "David Ayer's Fantasy Cop Thriller Bright Adds Two". We Got This Covered. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  20. ^ Kit, Borys (November 9, 2016). "Edgar Ramirez Joins Will Smith in David Ayer's Fantasy Thriller 'Bright'". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  21. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (November 11, 2016). "Ashley Bell Cast As Lead In 'Next Door'; Alex Meraz Joins David Ayer's 'Bright'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  22. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (November 15, 2016). "Matt Gerald Boards David Ayer's 'Bright'; Angel Bonanni Cast In 'Entebbe'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  23. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (November 16, 2016). "Ike Barinholtz Reunites With David Ayer, Will Smith On Netflix Film 'Bright". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  24. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (November 22, 2016). "Enrique Murciano Cast In Netflix's 'Bright'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  25. ^ Evry, Max (November 9, 2016). "First Bright Set Photos Featuring Will Smith in Costume". CraveOnline Media. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  26. ^ Ayer, David [@DavidAyerMovies] (February 4, 2017). "That's a wrap on #BRIGHT. Even in the darkest times we can find the light" (Tweet). Retrieved May 7, 2018 – via Twitter.
  27. ^ "Bright (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  28. ^ "Bright Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  29. ^ Roeper, Richard (December 26, 2017). "Put an orc in it: Will Smith's cop fantasy 'Bright' a Netflix disaster". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  30. ^ Fear, David (December 21, 2017). "'Bright' Review: Will Smith's 'L.A.P.D. of the Rings' Is Just South of Dim". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  31. ^ Ehrlich, David (December 20, 2017). "'Bright' Review: Netflix's First Blockbuster Is the Worst Movie of 2017". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  32. ^ Ayer, David [@DavidAyerMovies] (December 21, 2017). "This is going on my fridge. Highest compliment is a strong reaction either way…" (Tweet). Retrieved May 7, 2018 – via Twitter.
  33. ^ Klimek, Chris (December 21, 2017). "Will Smith Plays Cops-And-Monsters In Unremarkable 'Bright". NPR. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  34. ^ Cobb, Kayla (December 28, 2017). "Audiences Seem To Love 'Bright' As Much As Critics Hate It". Decider. NYP Holdings. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  35. ^ Relaxnews (December 30, 2017). "Netflix's 'Bright' lands 11 million audience, divides critics, viewers". Malay Mail. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  36. ^ Libbey, Dirk (December 24, 2017). "The Audience Seems To Like Bright A Whole Lot More Than The Critics Do". Cinema Blend. GatewayBlend Entertainment. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  37. ^ Telegraph Reporters (December 29, 2017). "Critics be damned: 'worst film of the year' Bright is a huge hit for Netflix". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  38. ^ a b Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 3, 2018). "Netflix Firms 'Bright' Sequel With Will Smith". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  39. ^ Spangler, Todd (December 26, 2017). "Netflix's 'Bright' Lands 11 Million U.S. Streaming Viewers Over First Three Days". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  40. ^ Wallenstein, Andrew (January 22, 2018). "Netflix Execs Call Critics 'Disconnected' for Bashing 'Bright' Film". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  41. ^ "Future Releases on Alternative Radio Stations". All Access Music Group. December 25, 2017. Archived from the original on November 20, 2017. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  42. ^ "Top 40/M Future Releases". All Access Music Group. Archived from the original on November 30, 2017. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  43. ^ Various Artists. "Bright: The Album". iTunes. Apple. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  44. ^ auspOp (January 6, 2018). "ARIA Chart Watch #454". auspOp. Archived from the original on September 4, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  45. ^ "Soundtrack Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  46. ^ " – Soundtrack – Bright: The Album" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  47. ^ "Eri esittäjiä: Bright: The Album" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  48. ^ " – Soundtrack – Bright: The Album" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  49. ^ "NZ Top 40 Albums Chart". The Official NZ Music Charts. Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
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  51. ^ "Soundtrack Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  52. ^ Keene, Alison (December 20, 2017). "Netflix Has Already Ordered a 'Bright' Sequel with Will Smith Returning". Collider. Complex Media. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  53. ^ Hood, Cooper (August 18, 2018). "Will Smith To Film Bad Boys 3 & Bright 2 Before Suicide Squad 2". Screen Rant. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  54. ^ "Lucy Fry Reveals Bright 2 Production Has Been Delayed". September 20, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  55. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (May 5, 2020). "Louis Leterrier Making Netflix Deal To Direct Will Smith & Joel Edgerton In 'Bright 2'". Deadline. Retrieved November 27, 2021.
  56. ^ Perry, Spencer (April 21, 2022). "Netflix Cancels Bright 2 Plans After Will Smith Oscar Incident". Retrieved April 21, 2022.
  57. ^ "Netflix's Bright: Samurai Soul Anime Film Reveals Promo Video, Cast, October 12 Debut". Anime News Network. September 14, 2021. Retrieved September 14, 2021.

External links[edit]