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Netflix has been in the movie-making game ever since it released Beasts of No Nation in October 2015, but last week marked the streaming service's first big move into blockbuster filmmaking with the release of Bright. Starring Will Smith and directed by David Ayer, Bright is Netflix's most expensive cinematic production so far, made off a $90 million budget. While Bright hasn't been quite the critical darling that Netflix was hoping for, clearly there hasn't been any issue with folks watching the movie, as during its first three days of availability, Bright was reportedly viewed more than 11 million times.
Along with this 11 million figure, according to Nielsen estimates passed along by Variety, between December 22-24, Bright was watched 7 million times by U.S. viewers using connected TVs. It's worth noting that these numbers may not be 100% accurate, as Netflix has previously disputed Nielsen's numbers (like with Stranger Things) and other third-party measuring attempts, though because Netflix itself won't release viewership numbers to the public, there's no way to ever know for sure just how many eyes are glazing over its programming. Plus, Nielsen tracks households rather than each individual screen. However, assuming that these Bright numbers are accurate, or at least close to the real amount, then the fantasy action movie performed not exceptionally, but still relatively well. Nielsen states that Bright wasn't as popular as Stranger Things Season 2, but it did draw a bigger crowd than The Crown Season 2.
Originally Bright was supposed to be a traditional theatrical release, but Netflix picked it up in fall 2016. It's hard to tell if being watched 11 million times during its first first three days of availability is comparable to having a huge opening weekend at theaters. It's one thing for Netflix subscribers to be browsing at the service's selection and to click on Bright either on a whim or because they were already planning to watch the movie, but how many of those people would have checked out the latest David Ayer movie if they had to buy tickets to it? Unless you can travel to a parallel universe where Bright was theatrically released, there's no way to know for sure.
Although Bright didn't fare well with many professional critics, it has proven to be a big hit among general audiences, earning an 89% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. It was also announced last week that a sequel has already been ordered, with Will Smith slated to reprise LAPD Officer Daryl Ward. As of tomorrow, it will be a full week since Bright was released, so it will be interesting to see if the movie remains one of the more popular Netflix choices or if it fades into the proverbial background as the weeks/months pass.
Don't forget to read CinemaBlend's review of Bright, and stay tuned for more updates on Bright 2's development.