Netflix is turning Will Smith streaming original ‘Bright’ into a film franchise

Netflix will launch its first streaming-only franchise, with the news (via Bloomberg) that it’s greenlit a sequel to Will Smith film Bright, which is set to stream beginning December 22. Bright has the budget of a Hollywood blockbuster, and a fantasy setting that could be a good fit for an episodic film franchise, given what has traditionally done well with fans in terms of big-budget cinematic universes.

Bright had a budget of $90 million, and of course stars Will Smith, himself a draw that you’d typically associate with big Hollywood theatrical productions. It’s not the typical Netflix original movie; those tend to be indie films with modest budgets, and a better chance of resonating with home audiences than dazzling with big-screen special effects.

There’s a lot riding on this franchise, now that Netflix has decided to dip its toes into these waters: Sequels are reliable revenue wells for Hollywood studios, as proven by the continued success and popularity of series including Star Wars and the Marvel superhero movies. Now that Marvel has made clear its intent to bring its own blockbuster properties back home when it launches its own streaming service in 2019, it’s even more important that Netflix establish some of its own proven IP to fall back upon.

A buddy cop action flick directed by the writer of Training Day might seem like an odd place for Netflix to start with its world-building, but at least it’s an interesting premise. Reviews have yet to hit the web for the film, so we’ll have to wait and see what kind of bedrock it provides for a franchise foundation.