Critics may have considered Will Smith’s orc cop movie Bright to be a steaming fairy turd, but the streaming service that paid big bucks to make it thinks the overall result smells like strawberries. In fact, Netflix is pointing at the movie’s viewership as proof they’re not alone in disagreeing with critics.
In a pre-taped video message released after the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report, execs used Bright as an illustration of how critics and mass audiences are totally different creatures. According to Variety, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is emboldened by the film’s success in the face of bad reviews.
“The critics are pretty disconnected from the mass appeal,” said Hastings who also noted the value of global appeal. “Most of the critical reviews you read are English language, just U.S.”
Ted Sarandon, chief content offer for Netflix, echoed Hastings’ sentiment on audiences versus critics.
“Critics are an important part of the artistic process but are pretty disconnected from the commercial prospects of a film,” he said. “If people are watching this movie and loving it, that’s the measurement of success. And if the critics get behind it or don’t, that’s a select group of social media influencers talking to a specific audience.”
Netflix addressing Bright‘s dismal reviews puts the company in an interesting spot. A lot of their original content is championed by critics and that’s not entirely unintentional on Netflix’s part. Critics and mass audiences aren’t always going to like the same things. It’d be silly if they did. The tricky thing here is that we may be on the precipice of a serious escalation of the largely unnecessary critics vs fans narrative. Both parties can co-exist, ya goofs. If they couldn’t, the Ernest franchise would never see the light of day.