In January, Netflix showed it was serious about one-upping old school Hollywood movie dealmakers when it swooped into the Sundance Film Festival with an open checkbook, acquiring six indie films and driving up prices with big bids for others.
Now, Netflix is doing it again, on a much larger scale, committing to spend $90 million to produce the “Bright,” a supernatural cop thriller with stars Will Smith and Joel Edgerton and director David Ayer attached. The news of the deal’s close was first reported by Deadline.
Netflix’s winning offer includes $3 million for the script by Max Landis, son of “Animal House” director John Landis, whose previous credits include “American Ultra” and “Chronicle.”
Netflix beat out a handful of other bidders, including a tag team of Warner Bros. and MGM, which offered $50 million, and PalmStar, an indie production company backed by $2 billion-plus hedge fund Merced Capital, which pledged $4 million for Landis’ script and a total budget of approximately $60 million, according to Deadline.
Smith and Ayer recently worked together on the highly-anticipated super villain action-comedy “Suicide Squad,” due for release from Warner Bros. in on Aug. 5.
The plot of “Bright,” which takes place in a Los Angeles of the future where Orcs and fairies live among humans, is said to be a cross between Ayer’s 2012 police drama “End of Watch” and the 1988 sci-fi film “Alien Nation,” in which a human detective (James Caan) is paired with an alien partner (Mandy Patinkin).
Last June, Netflix reportedly committed to spend $60 million on “War Machine,” an adaptation of Michael Hastings’ book “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War” directed by David Michod (“Animal Kingdom”) and starring Brad Pitt, who’s also producing through his production company Plan B Entertainment. While the budget for “War Machine” is only two-thirds of what Netflix is spending on “Bright,” the project — a satirical comedy set against the backdrop of the war in Afghanistan — is a much riskier bet.
“Bright” is expected to begin shooting in Los Angeles this fall.