Bright, the controversial film that Netflix unleashed upon the world in December, is officially getting a sequel. The streaming platform announced the news before the film even premiered—and was soundly drubbed by critics—then confirmed it on Wednesday, revealing that Will Smith and Joel Edgerton will return to star in the second film, while David Ayer will return to write and direct the sequel. Eric Newman and Bryan Unkeless are also set to produce. A release date for the upcoming sequel has not yet been announced.
The streaming platform announced the sequel by sharing a mock audition, with “orc” actors trying out for potential roles in the upcoming movie.
The only core Bright team member not returning for the sequel is Max Landis, the controversial screenwriter who penned the script for the first film. Over the last few years, Landis (son of famed filmmaker John Landis) has carved up a polarizing reputation thanks to his provocative Twitter presence and his quick rise, despite the iffy reviews and modest box-office performances of most of the movies he has written.
Bright is another critically panned film to add to his list, though Netflix attests that the film has done incredibly well with viewers. In a release, the streaming platform said Bright is the No. 1 movie on Netflix internationally, and is the “highest viewed Netflix film ever on the service in its first week of release and one of the biggest originals (including sequels/additional seasons) Netflix has ever launched.”
As some have pointed out, perhaps other films on Netflix’s slate could have benefited from the same level of publicity that Bright received. But the streaming platform has made clear that it thinks highly of the fantasy film, its no-holds-barred entry into the blockbuster universe; Netflix lavished Bright with an unprecedented $90 million budget, and paid Landis a reported $3.5 million for his original script.
Bright follows two cops—one is a human, one is an orc—as they stumble upon a larger-than-life fantasy war in Los Angeles. The film has been criticized for many reasons, but particularly for the clumsy metaphors it tries to draw up about modern racism. Vanity Fair critic Jordan Hoffman summarized this fruitless attempt, writing that the film’s “world-building is so inept that there is zero point in scrutinizing any symbolism beyond the obvious.” Perhaps Ayer, who has responded surprisingly well to criticism of the film thus far, will listen to these critiques—and perhaps do something in the new film that saves the sequel from itself.