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Will Smith Bright

From all outward appearances, Bright, is as much as a big budget blockbuster movie as anything that we find in theaters during the holidays. The only difference is it's found on Netflix, but the streaming service has decided not to market the movie in the traditional manner. If Bright was being released by a major studio it would be all over the place with trailer adds and billboards and commercials. However, most people who don't follow movie news closely may not even realize the movie exists. Netflix doesn't feel it needs to utilize those methods very much, because it can market the film so well on its own platform that it doesn't need them.

Netflix has such a strong handle on the user base and the data that user base generates, that by analyzing it they can figure out exactly who is most likely to enjoy Bright and target the marketing directly at them whenever they open their Netflix app. It seems that Netflix doesn't feel that broad-based marketing to everybody, in hopes that they'll hit the right people, the way most movie marketing is done, is really all that effective.

There are a couple of reasons that this process works well for Netflix while it wouldn't work for other studios. First of all, Netflix isn't beholden to movie theater schedules. Bright has a release date, but it's not going to have the limited run that a movie has in theaters. Bright will be available to watch on the service essentially forever, and at the end of the day, it doesn't matter to Netflix when, or even if, you watch it. Netflix subscribers pay their monthly subscription regardless. If you watch Bright now or in a year, that doesn't impact the service. It's a brand new movie to you either way.

Instead, Netflix focuses on making sure that making sure that people who might like Bright know it's there, so that they feel Netflix is valuable and a place that has movies they enjoy. As Netflix VP Chris Jaffe explained to Fast Company...

We've found the most effective way to drive viewing is on the service. Promotion continues for life. Our notion is that every night is premiere night. If a member joins in a year and likes action films, they're going to get the same promotion. It doesn't matter that Bright is launching in 2017. That premiere experience will happen for years.

If you've been seeing Bright as part of your Netflix options it's because data says that it's something you might like, based on other things you watch. If not, it's still there for you, but the company doesn't really think it's your kind of film. The same will likely be true of the already green-lit sequel.