Why Netflix's CEO Isn't Bothered By Bright's Bad Reviews

Bright Will Smith Joel Edgerton

Opinion disparities seen in films like Justice League and Star Wars: The Last Jedi have shown a gap between what reviews say, and what moviegoers tend to think. However, few films from 2017 epitomized that more than David Ayer's Bright on Netflix, which earned a 26% Rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes but seemed to resonate with audiences. Now, according to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, as long as audiences are responding to the content, bad reviews don't matter all that much. Hastings opened up during a call to discuss Netflix's quarterly earnings and explained:

The critics are pretty disconnected from the mass appeal. Considering we're moving internationally at this point, and most of those critical reviews are English language and just U.S.

The critic-audience divide on Bright is almost as vast as it can get. Despite the film's abysmal 26% rating from professional reviewers, the gritty fairy tale was received much more positively by average viewers and currently has an 86% audience score over at RT. Couple that with the fact that Netflix recently reported an explosion in viewership for the film over the holidays, and it's pretty clear that Netflix seems to have a metric for success that's based more on populist accessibility than critical accolades. In the quest for a global audience, Reed Hastings doesn't put all of his eggs in the English-speaking critic basket.

This mentality of not putting too much stock in the opinions of American critics has popped up elsewhere at Netflix. Specifically, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos echoed Reed Hastings' opinions during Monday's earnings call (via The Wrap) and explained:

Critics are an important part of the kind of artistic process, but they're pretty disconnected from the commercial prospects of a film. If people are watching this movie and loving it, that is the measurement of success.

The fact that Netflix seems to view Bright as a success was made even more explicit by the recent announcement there will be a sequel. Stars Will Smith and Joel Edgerton are both expected to return, and it looks like Netflix's first big-budget blockbuster is going to enter full-blown franchise territory. Elsewhere in Netflix's earnings call, Reed Hastings explained that big-ticket items like Bright and Stranger Things help drive subscribers to the service, which means satisfying that broad audience will likely remain a primary objective for the foreseeable future.

Bright is currently available to stream on Netflix. Check out our in-depth review of the film, and listen to our Bright episode of The Cord Cutter Podcast to hear what else we have to say about it! As for upcoming theatrical debuts, you can hop over to our movie premiere guide to get yourself caught up on all of 2018's biggest release dates!

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.