Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos defended the streaming service’s latest fantasy release Bright while also throwing shade at movie critics.
Bright directed by Suicide Squad’s David Ayer stars Will Smith and Joel Edgerton as a human and ork police officer. The two respond to a fire fight in a bad neighborhood, but they get caught up in the hunt for a magical weapon that can reshape one’s fortunes. Their lives are on the line as they are hunted down by Noomi Rapace’s elf character, Leilah.
During a quarterly earnings review, Sarandos praised the film, but also criticized out-of-touch movie critics.
“The consumer response to the film has been great. Every internal measurement says it’s one of our most-watched pieces of original content — meaning TV show or film — that we’ve ever had. If you look at the [audience-generated] reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb, you see positive experiences with that film. Critics are an important part of the artistic process but they’re pretty disconnected from the commercial prospects of a film. The way we look at it is [that] people are watching this movie and loving it and that is the measure of success. If critics get behind it or don’t, that’s a select group of social media influencers talking to a select audience.”
In fact, Bright has an 86% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.3 score on Metacritic. However if you compare that to the critic score, Bright sits at 26% on Rotten Tomatoes and 29 on Metacritic. It’s a very similar rating to DC Films’ Justice League and almost the complete opposite of Disney’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
According to Nielsen who attempts to track Netflix’s viewership reported Bright had 11 million views between December 22 and December 24 of 2017. Fortune converted those numbers to box office totals and estimated the film would have opened up to a $99 million debut at the box office. That’s onpar with Universal Pictures’ The Fate of the Furious, which went on to earn $1.2 million world wide and currently sits as the #12 movie in total gross of all time. In fact, it was the third highest grossing film of 2017 just behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Beauty and the Beast.
Sarandos wasn’t the only one at Netflix to go after the movie critics. Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings also pointed out how disconnected these movie reviewers are.
From an investors standpoint, you want to focus on things like … Jumanji, the critics are pretty disconnected from the mass appeal, especially remembering international at this point. Most of the reviews you read are in English and usually just the U.S.
Jumanji currently sits at a 90% audience score with a 76% critic score.
Both Sarandos and Hastings correctly point out that critics are out of touch with the general audience reactions. It’s also interesting that Netflix doesn’t seem at all concerned with reviews. This was one of the big sticking points with Warner Bros. Batman v Superman and Justice League. It lead to a number of changes at the top of DC Films including their new president. It also seemingly influenced Ben Affleck’s decision to direct a solo Batman movie. While Warner Bros. made major changes, Netflix is doubling down on their success with Bright. They already ordered a sequel for the film in a hilarious “leaked” tape of Ork auditions.
Do you agree with Netflix about critics being out of touch with general audiences?