Bright sequel canceled by Netflix after Will Smith Oscars slap

Will Smith at Gemini Man Los Angeles Premiere
Will Smith at the Gemini Man premiere at TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Pic credit: © Thompson/AdMedia

Netflix has canceled a sequel to the 2017 film Bright, which was to star Academy Award-winning actor Will Smith. The announcement comes several weeks after Smith slapped onstage presenter Chris Rock during the live telecast of the Oscars.

While Smith offered prompt apologies for the incident during his acceptance speech at the ceremony, and a day later on Instagram, the actor was banned from Academy events for 10 years. He also officially resigned as a member of the Academy.

Following the incident, reports surfaced about projects with Smith attached that had either been halted or “moved to the back burner” in terms of production plans.

Netflix cancels Bright sequel following Smith’s Oscars slap

2017’s Bright was a Netflix original mystery-thriller and sci-fi/fantasy film directed by David Ayer. It features Will Smith as Daryl Ward, a human police officer partnered with an orc in a fictional present-day world where orcs, fairies, elves, and humans co-exist.

The film achieved a dismal 27 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer as critics mostly panned the movie. However, audiences generally enjoyed the film, helping it achieve an 83 percent audience score on the site. That, along with success shown via streaming metrics, may have led to plans for a sequel.

Now, an originally planned sequel for the film has been canceled, according to a tweet from Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw, who Netflix “abandoned plans” for the sequel but noted it’s “unrelated” to Will Smith’s Oscars incident.

Another Smith project for Netflix called Fast and Loose was “moved to the streamed back burner” following Smith’s incident at the Oscars.

In addition to the cancelation of the Bright sequel, Bloomberg reported that National Geographic had delayed the start of production of a show starring Will Smith called Pole to Pole. The show was to feature Smith visiting the North and South Poles, with filming scheduled to start in three weeks.

It was the third NatGeo program starring Smith, and based on Bloomberg’s report, it will still happen. The publication cited a person familiar with the company’s plans that asked to remain anonymous, who indicated Pole to Pole would start filming this fall.

Smith still expected to get work despite Oscars incident

Smith’s Oscars slap occurred after onstage presenter Chris Rock delivered a G.I. Jane joke related to Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her bald appearance.

A source later indicated Rock was unaware that Pinkett suffers from alopecia, a condition that involves hair loss. While Will Smith initially was seen laughing at Rock’s Oscars remark on camera, his wife seemed unamused.

Shortly after, Smith left his seat in the crowd, walked up to the stage, and slapped Chris Rock before returning to his seat. He then shouted at Rock several times, telling him to leave his wife’s name out of his “f**king mouth.”

Smith remained in the audience at the ceremony, and shortly after the incident happened, he was awarded Best Actor for his work in King Richard. His teary-eyed acceptance speech included apologies to the Academy and others. A day later, he issued a statement on Instagram which included an apology for Chris Rock.

While Smith also resigned as a member of the Academy and has been banned from their events for 10 years, industry experts believe the award-winning actor will still be able to find work because there is still “strong affection” for Smith in “sections of Hollywood.”

Marketing consultant Jeff Kelly mentioned that Smith’s prospects would probably include small-budget action films and projects on television or with streaming platforms.

“Smaller budget companies will want to bring him on board to make movies, most likely in the action genre, using his name and cache, which they believe audiences still value,” Kelly said.

“This will not be the end for Smith. He still has allies in the business, who while silent now, feel that one mistake should not mean an end to a lifetime of entertaining audiences,” he said.

Smith, 53, has starred in plenty of blockbuster movies during his career, including his role as Detective Sergeant Mike Lowery in three Bad Boys films. According to a MovieWeb report, production on a planned fourth installment in the series was postponed following Smith’s Oscars slap.

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