Things haven't gone especially well for Will Smith over the last few years. Previously one of the biggest movie stars on the planet (and still quite famous and wealthy from the experience) his last few releases have been either poorly reviewed, box-office disappointments or both; and his recent bid for Oscar caliber recognition in Concussion largely stalled in the awards season. Now, it looks as though his next chance at a major hit will be David Ayer's dark DC Comics adaptation Suicide Squad, which features Smith doing two types of roles (a villain and a comic book adaptation) he'd previously shied away from.
Audiences have awhile to wait to see how Suicide Squad turns out, but the experience seems to have agreed with Smith and Ayer, as the pair are reportedly re-teaming for the supernatural-themed police thriller Bright. The project has apparently also attracted the attention of Joel Edgerton, who is also in talks to co-star.
Based on a script by Max Landis -- which is reportedly being re-written by Ayer -- Bright is described as a police thriller set in a world where fantasy creatures like orcs and fairies exist and are commonplace. Little else is known, but the story is described as not taking place in the immediate present, which suggests a period cop movie in the vein of Who Framed Roger Rabbit or Shane Black's upcoming The Nice Guys.
A cop thriller would be a new vein for Landis, whose focus thus far has been in genre material like Chronicle, American Ultra, Victor Frankenstein and Joseph Khan's unlicensed dark take on Power Rangers; along with the ongoing DC Comics miniseries Superman: American Alien. On the other hand, the genre is familiar territory for Ayer, who has specialized in police and military stories as the writer of U-571, Training Day, The Fast & The Furious, and S.W.A.T. and as writer/director of Harsh Times, End of Watch, Sabotage and Fury. They certainly make an unusual creative pair, but maybe that's appropriate for a film built around mashing-up the disparate genres of cop-thriller and fantasy.
The so-called "urban fantasy" genre in general doesn't get much of a workout outside of the Young Adult adaptation scene, and even then only sparringly. The last attempt at the genre of note was 2013's R.I.P.D., a box-office failure with Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges as undead cops tasked with tracking down renegade ghosts hiding out in the human world. Crossovers between policework and science fiction tend to be more successful with mainstream audiences, as demonstrated by Alien Nation -- a 1980s sleeper hit that later inspired a modestly successful syndicated TV series.
If the film is to succeed, it will likely rely on Smith's considerable charisma and Ayer's grasp of tough-guy team dynamics in police and military settings. While he has yet to direct a genuine box-office smash, his above average grasp of such material has made him a sought-after figure among studios with "tough guy" genre pictures to produce. And while his star may have waned slightly, Smith is still more than capable of drawing an audience -- and his own speciality in his heyday was drawing big crowds to genre fare like Men in Black. If Suicide Squad is the hit that Warner Bros. seems to expect it to be, look for the project to get a big push for the director/star re-teaming.
Screen Rant will have more details regarding Bright as news is made available.