Will Smith, David Ayer Praise Netflix at Comic-Con: "This Ain't No Bullshit PG-13 Studio Movie"
The first full-length fantasy trailer for Bright had a big Hall H debut on Thursday.
Will Smith and director David Ayer were on hand to introduce the footage. It was Netflix's first film presentation at San Diego Comic-Con, and it also included footage from its upcoming Manga adaptation Death Note.
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"What's up Hall H? This is Netflix's house," Ayer said as he greeted the crowd, adding of the trailer, "Check this shit out."
Smith walked out giving high fives to the cast, and had a hug for moderator Terry Crews, while Ayer continued to show off his trademark bravura enthusiasm throughout the panel.
Bright, penned by Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis, follows two cops: a human (Smith) and an Orc (Joel Edgerton), who must outrun law enforcement, criminals and an assorted coterie of supernatural beings in order to protect a magical wand. It's a world where Orcs and other supernatural creatures are real — and don't always get along.
"It was really great to be an African-American police officer who found someone to be racist against," Smith joked. The actor said the film's social issues-inspired story is "a beautiful snapshot of our world, without hammering it too much."
Edgerton, who wore prosthetics to transform into an Orc for the film, noted that he didn't get much attention sitting next to Smith while filming in the streets of Los Angeles, where the film was shot.
"Nobody cared that a monster was driving a car in L.A.," he said. "Everyone was like, 'Will! Hey, Will!'"
Landing the ambitious Smith-starrer was a coup for Netflix, and Ayer said he expects top film talent will continue to flock to the streaming service.
"This ain't no bullshit PG-13 studio movie. I was able to do my shit. I was able to do my thing," he said, potentially throwing shade on his experience making Suicide Squad or his recent backing away from Universal's remake of Scarface. "Netflix is going to pull a lot of talent because they are so supportive," said the helmer.
Smith echoed the sentiment, saying of the difference between working with the studios vs. working with Netflix: "I’m sure this will end soon, but they give you money and let you make the movie."
After the panel, Ayer was asked at a press conference what the movie would have looked like if it had been made at a studio. "It is hard to quantify. It’s hard to speak for what could have been, but I can say this is a movie," answered the director, coyly. "We weren’t chasing a rebate. We weren't trying to make Atlanta into Los Angeles."
Producer Bryan Unkeless interjected: "Rating for sure would have been different." The entire panel voiced their agreement.
Smith offered his own take: “Netflix can make a hard rated R film for $170 million. Studios can’t do that if the executive wants to be at work on Monday. When you make a movie that expensive you have to broaden the audience which means you have to be PG-13.”
This week Christopher Nolan said in an interview that he would never work with Netflix, calling its filmmaking policies "mindless." When asked to respond to Nolan's comments about the streamer that they have readily embraced, Smith dodged the questions, joking, "I think Mr. Nolan is a wonderful director and I am not going to say anything that is going to keep me from being in his next movie.”
Smith did add that “there are certain things you want to see on a big screen, specifically the type of films that Chris makes. The venue is a part of the experience.”
Earlier at the panel, the actor broke with Hall H protocol, signing autographs for fans as minor chaos ensued. Perhaps Hall H really is Netflix's house.
Bright is set to bow on Netflix on Dec. 22.
by Graeme McMillan
by Phil Pirrello
by Brian Davids