TOKYO, JAPAN – Is the experience of watching a movie on demand the same as watching it the old-fashioned way, meaning inside a theater?
If you have a sound answer, Will Smith wants to hear all about it.
“Does the size of the screen, does the big cinematic experience of seeing it in the theater, have an emotional reaction that you could get if you’re watching it in your house?” was how he put it at the general press conference of his Netflix movie starrer “Bright.”
“Does the movie penetrate the human mind and human heart, the same way that it does in that cinematic experience when you have to drive for an hour (to a theater), sit in a room with hundreds of other people? Does it have that same kind of emotional penetrating power?”
On second thought, don’t tell Will your thoughts. It will be almost moot and academic if he were pertaining to “Bright” with that whole theater-on demand contretemps. Netflix has already greenlighted a sequel to “Bright” after it started streaming in 190 countries less than a month ago. At the very least that means a lot of people enjoyed it, regardless of platform or medium.
Set in an alternate version of present day Los Angeles in which supernatural beings live side-by-side with humans, Will is a cop embarking on a routine night patrol that will alter the future of the world. He is with buddy cop, who happens to be an orc.
Battling both their personal differences and an onslaught of enemies, they must work together to protect a young female elf and a thought-to-be-forgotten relic, which, in the wrong hands, could destroy everything.
“It’s really a film about how we treat one another,” Will initially said. “There is an underlying theme in the movie about how we treat one another, sort of how we bully each other, and how two
people become friends in the middle of this really dark world.”
Later, the Hollywood actor went deeper, a bit more personal.
“In our film, the elves are on top of society, they’re the rich people that have everything. And the orcs are in the bottom, they’re the people that everybody looks down on. And the humans are in the middle.
“So for me as an African-American police officer in this world to be racist against orcs, it was very different social paradigm. In playing that, I learned a lot looking at the racial and class divides – looking at it from that angle in a science-fiction movie.”
He enjoyed being a sidekick to the character played by Joel Edgerton.
“In terms of chemistry between Joel and I, it was very very close to one of those classic Hollywood bromances. When he puts that orc makeup on, it would just do something inside of me.”
In a release, Joel said he thought he was going to create a character that was more animalistic.
“What we discovered through rehearsal is that Jakoby (the name of the orc character) desperately wants to be human,” he said. “He spent his whole life trying to be human, so the more human I played it, the better it was.”
Back to Will, he noted no difference in the way Netflix does movies compared to big-budget Hollywood feature.
“The only difference that I’m not sure about a couple of weeks from now, is that when I made ‘Independence Day,’ that Friday everyone was calling me ‘Will.’ And then Monday after ‘Independence Day’ came out, was the first time that anybody called me ‘Mr. Smith,’” he joked.
Will also talked about the pressures involved in making a big Hollywood movie and how Netflix isn’t as affected by it.
“I think what happens in the (big Hollywood) studios (is that they) spend more than a hundred million dollars on a movie and (by doing so), they have to serve certain creative demands because of the risk profile for that kind of spend. Just the very cost of it changes the entire creative process. It has to be PG 13 – they’re not gonna make a hundred plus million dollar Rated-R movie without an IP that is strongly proven.”
But don’t get Will wrong: He doesn’t think of those things at all in accepting offers.
“Being able to do something different is a part of how I think about trying to create longevity in this business,” he said.
Will is currently working on a movie with Ang Lee. Lest he gets “fired” for talking too much about it at this point, he only divulged that will be a dual role.