– by David Kozlowski

David Ayer is one of the more interesting and enigmatic filmmakers working today. He’s a Navy veteran, an accomplished screenwriter, and a director of incredibly diverse material. His films include gritty street-level cop films, squad-based war movies, and sprawling superhero blockbusters. His next film debuts on Netflix, Bright, a hybrid fantasy-cop film of orcs, elves, and magic wands set in rugged, modern-day Los Angeles is somehow a logical merger of everything he’s done to-date.

From the outside, Bright looks like a high-concept mess, the sort of thing a young screenwriter might come up with sitting on a bar stool after one too many shots of tequila… I’m not judging, if that’s your muse you follow it, amirite? Odd as the film’s premise might seem, the recent trailer actually kind of sells it. Ayer has proven adept at elevating standard, genre material, which he’s demonstrated in dynamic, exhilarating films like Fury and End of Watch.

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Ayer’s choice to make a big-budget, cop-fantasy film on Netflix — Bright‘s budget is $90 million — is bold, given the success of last year’s Suicide Squad. However, as we’ve reported here at LRM, Suicide Squad was a problematic shoot and Ayer was only given around six weeks to write the script (and hoo-boy, did it show). So maybe stepping into the Netflix pool, particularly given the freedom they’ve allowed other filmmakers, was too good to pass up.

Based on what we’ve heard so far, it’s clear that Ayer not only had a lot of freedom to make this film, he had all of tools and support he needed to ensure his vision was met… It’s kind of shocking to compare Bright’s development to The Dark Tower, another hybrid fantasy film, which had a much smaller budget and reportedly a lot of struggles during production.

When the topic of sequel came up at the recent SDCC press conference, David Ayer had some more really interesting things to say:

“Movies are movies. This is a movie and if we do a sequel, we’re going to tell more of the story, and then maybe we will tell more of the story after that…What’s the mythology? What’s the history? How do these different races interplay with each other? What’s the history of the orcs? So it’s something that I think is eminently developable (sic) and you know I look for the opportunity.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of Bright. It seems like the perfect kind of project for Netflix, which doesn’t have to worry about opening weekend box office returns (or spending the marketing necessary to fill theater seats). Kind of makes you wonder what The Dark Tower might have been on Netflix… but I digress.

The idea of franchises and sequels for Netflix films is intriguing. If Bright is successful could we see a trilogy? A universe? What’s clear is that Netflix isn’t afraid of competing with the major studios, hiring big name actors, and pushing boundaries. Given Disney’s decision to yank their films and shows from Netflix, Bright might become a cornerstone for the streaming service. It’s exciting to see how Netflix is shaking things up, I’m looking forward to where it all goes from here.

What are your expectations for Bright and the future of original films on Netflix? Let us know in the comments down below!

Bright hits Netflix on December 22, 2017.

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David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.