Sunday night’s 89th Academy Awards telecast was a long one. If you stuck with it, you may have gotten away from the TV during commercial breaks to use the bathroom, keep circulation going in your legs, or simply stay awake. But that may have meant you missed a movie trailer during the Oscars broadcast, something not usually seen.
studios aren’t allowed to advertise during the #Oscars, but that rule doesn’t yet apply to Netflix etc. after BRIGHT, that’s gonna change.
— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) February 27, 2017
That typically isn’t allowed because all of Hollywood is supposed to unite on Oscars night, even if studios, producers, actors, artists and technicians are presumably competing against each other for recognition. Also, the Academy Awards are a celebration of the past year in movies, so flooding commercial breaks with advertising for upcoming films might take away from that. Plus, Oscars ads aren’t Super Bowl ads. Studios might prefer to spend their ad dollars elsewhere, especially on audiences that aren’t already movie fans.
So it was something of a surprise when a teaser trailer for Netflix’s Bright played during a commercial break during the latter part of Sunday’s telecast. For one thing, people weren’t aware that it was coming. Additionally, a movie that looks like a police procedural mashed up with sci-fi/fantasy isn’t really the sort of fare for which the Oscars audience is looking. The Super Bowl might have been a better place for that, though the price tag is far more expensive. Take a look at the trailer.
With Suicide Squad winning a surprising Academy Award (for Best Makeup and Hairstyling) early in the evening, a trailer for director David Ayer’s next film starring Will Smith was suddenly well-placed. If Netflix could have worked in a “From the director and star of Academy Award winner Suicide Squad” graphic, the streaming provider surely would have. Instead, we got a 30-second ad that started out looking much like Ayer’s previous police dramas Street Kings and End of Watch. (He also wrote Training Day, Dark Blue and S.W.A.T.) With Los Angeles neighborhoods, gang violence, militarized zones, and Smith’s cop eyeing his surroundings suspiciously, this appeared awfully familiar.
Then the teaser gets weird with a demonic-looking creature with huge fans pointing a shotgun at the camera. Is that a mask? That’s not a mask. This is followed by bleach-skinned humanoids which look alien. Vampires, maybe? Based on what information Netflix has released, these are orcs and elves inhabiting our planet with us. Then Will Smith is holding a big ol’ sword, looking like he’s ready to get medieval on someone… or something. Cut to shots of an incandescent tree and one of these elves jolting awake, and… just what the hell do we have here?
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) February 4, 2017
Smith says “I’m assuming this doesn’t end well,” followed by some quick flashes of a woman screaming, someone wearing a deer skull, and Smith diving across a convenience store aisle (which has a car in it) for what’s probably a gun, and that is Bright. Coming to your Netflix in December. (Reportedly, it could also receive a theatrical release, as Netflix did with 2015’s Beasts of No Nation. But theater chains hate this practice and likely won’t carry the film as a result.) According to Deadline, the network is spending $90 million (for production and marketing) on this project.
Stars like Smith certainly don’t come cheap, and it’s intriguing that this will play on Netflix, rather than in theaters. But after dealing with Warner Brothers’ interference on Suicide Squad, Ayer surely wanted some more freedom. And maybe this fit more of what Smith was looking for too. Getting into the blockbuster business is an expensive gamble for Netflix. The hope has to be that Will Smith can sell what appears to be Training Day, Alien Nation, Lord of the Rings and Men in Black thrown into a blender. However, compelling people to give it shot at home is much different than asking them to go to the theaters and spend cash on tickets. Maybe this will work.