It wasn't too long ago that Netflix ratings were a mystery to all, with those who ran the streaming service keeping numbers close to the chest. But in the last year that veil of secrecy has been lifted. According to Nielsen, Netflix's latest major movie release, Bright, pulled in 11 million viewers on opening weekend, and 7 million over Christmas. To that end, it not a major surprise to learn that a Bright sequel is coming. Netflix greenlit the sequel this week.
Eleven million over three days is nothing to sneeze at. For a streaming service, those are pretty decent numbers. Most of Netflix's major offerings rank around the same level as HBO's programming, with opening weekend bringing in viewers in the 2 to 6 million range. (The Crown Season 2, for example, averaged 3 million on the first weekend. Orange Is The New Black's latest season averaged 6.7 million.)
But for context, Netflix's first foray into making an A-list level blockbuster wasn't nearly as successful as they might have hoped either. Despite the Will Smith marquee name, pedigreed writer Max Landis, and director of Suicide Squad David Ayer all on board, Bright landed far behind the much less high-end listed cast and crew of Stranger Things 2. That averaged 15.8 million, which is verging on Game of Thrones level numbers.
Netflix's new habit of not greenlighting everything to automatic sequel hit Stranger Things pretty hard: The show dropped on Oct. 29, but the renewal didn't come until nearly three months later. But here's Bright, with only two-thirds of those numbers and it's getting greenlit within a few-week span.
To be fair, Netflix also didn't need to give Stranger Things a vote of confidence, but the numbers, the enthusiasm, the Emmy, SAG, and Golden Globe nominations, speak for themselves. Bright, on the other hand, was slammed by critics. While audiences may have watched in droves, the reviews were brutal, with a 28 percent favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Twitter was no kinder, with many seeming to be watching for the hater factor than the enjoyment.
For those who have not seen it, here's the synopsis:
But Netflix believes in Bright and has greenlit a sequel, which I'll call Bright 2, for lack of anything better. Will Smith will be back Will Smithing it up all over the place, as he is paid to do. His sidekick orc, played by Joel Edgerton, will be by his side for the second ride. Director David Ayer is also aboard for the sequel. There's just one person they'll be missing: Max Landis, who wrote the original script. Ayer will apparently be taking that over, giving critics a whole new person to slam instead when the sequel arrives.
Even before Bright debuted, it was probably inevitable that Netflix would greenlight a sequel. This is the first major foray into "tent pole" moviemaking, and a tent pole isn't a tent pole if it's a standalone. The Hollywood Reporter suggested Netflix waited to see the numbers before making anything official, but it was pretty much assured that Bright would have had to crash and burn hard before they canceled it.
How the sequel does will be the real test of Netflix's new venture. Until then, we'll have to hope the alternate universe of Los Angeles stays relatively crime free.