Long gone are the days when Netflix could be described as just a streaming service. In the last few years they have established themselves as a major producer of standout films and television shows. The stamp ‘Netflix Original’ has become a sure-fire mark of quality, showcasing fresh new talent and household names alike.
Recent critically acclaimed titles have included Stephen King adaptation Gerald’s Game, fascinating true story drama Mindhunter and the mind bending Stranger Things. But now, with the arrival of the widely-discussed, feature-length fantasy Bright, Netflix are officially playing with the big boys. David Ayer directed the film, his intense action scenes are reminiscent of his previous work, particularly Brad Pitt’s war epic Fury, and last year’s Suicide Squad.
Starring A-list actors Will Smith, Joel Edgerton and Noomi Rapace, Bright is a genre-twisting cocktail of a movie. Two parts cop film, three parts mythical adventure fantasy, topped off with a dash of social commentary – it’s a heady mix, but it isn’t to everyone’s taste. Vanity Fair described the blend of Netflix’s first mega budget movie as having ‘beatings, shootouts, car crashes, awkward analogies and a measure of buddy badinage in Bright, but true enchantment is in short supply.’
Whatever you thought of Bright, you have to admit it is something different. It is this aspect of Netflix that attracts audiences and artists alike. In an interview with Jonathan Ross for the BBC Radio Two Arts Show, Sherlock actor Amanda Abbington extolled the virtues of working with Netflix. She has just finished shooting an eight-part drama called Safe for the site. Safe is tipped to be a fascinating whodunnit set within a claustrophobic gated community. It also stars Michael C. Hall of Dexter.
“At last week’s Golden Globes, Netflix held 12 nominations, second only to HBO. But despite the numerous nods, only Aziz Ansari took home an award.”
Abbington explained that the cast had the time, funding and space to fully develop their characters, ‘They allowed us to do what we wanted.’ Abbington also said that in development, the cast and crew felt that not having a traditional studio boss breathing down their necks meant that they could be ‘more racy and more interesting.’ During the exchange, host Jonathan Ross also pointed out that ‘one of the great things about Netflix is that they don’t release viewing figures.’ This is liberating for the artists but also allows viewers to judge programs themselves, instead of blindly following popular opinion. Safe is scheduled for release around April this year.
Awards bodies have also begun to sit up and take notice of the streaming giant. At last week’s Golden Globes, Netflix held 12 nominations, second only to HBO. But despite the numerous nods, only Aziz Ansari took home an award. His performance in his Netflix Original series, Master of None, won him Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy TV Series.
Compared with the other household names currently producing television and film, Netflix is just an infant. But if it continues to grow this fast year-on-year, it won’t be long before they begin to really lead the industry. They have promised to release 80 original movies in 2018, and if they are as least as good as their most recent release, the future of Netflix is Bright indeed.