Will Smith talks Bright and using orcs and elves to comment on race relations

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Dec 14, 2017

Will Smith is known for his winning streak at the box office, having had eight consecutive films open at number one and gross over $100 million or more.

But now Mr. Blockbuster is headed straight to Netflix. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

At Wednesday night's world premiere of Bright in Los Angeles, Will Smith talked about why he decided to go with the streaming service for his next flick instead of the more traditional theatrical run. And it comes down to the fact that Hollywood doesn't greenlight the kind of challenging story the David Ayers-helmed Bright tells – i.e. using the fantasy and police procedural genre as a way to explore the subject of race.

"What’s great about working with Netflix is that this is the type of movie you couldn’t really make anywhere else," Smith told Variety. "It’s an R-rated, violent, $100 million dollar movie … no other studio is making that."

Set in an alternate Dungeons and Dragons-esque world where humans coexist with orcs and elves, Bright is essentially an allegory that finds the Men In Black star playing a black LAPD officer named Daryl Ward who gets a little racist with his Orc partner, Nick Jacoby (Joel Edgerton), as the two work together to protect an elf (Noomie Rapace) and find a magic wand that could destroy the world.

Smith, of course, is no stranger to controversial material, having portrayed legendary boxer  and civil rights activist Muhammad Ali in Michael's Mann's biopic Ali. But given the current state of race relations and the rise of Black Lives Matter, the actor added that the movie represents "an exciting opportunity to look at society through a different lens."

With Netflix's massive $6 billion budget for original content in 2017, Bright represents its most expensive film to date. And with that content budget going up to $9 billion in 2018, there's surely more ambitious fare to come.

Bright, written by John Landis' son, Max Landis, and costarring Edgar Ramirez, is slated to debut on the streaming service Dec. 22.