Netflix's Bright & Death Note Terrify SDCC Audiences

Netflix's Death Note

On the first day of Comic-Con International in San Diego 2017, Netflix takes the main stage of Hall H, unveiling details on two of their intriguing upcoming movies, David Ayer's supernatural cop drama Bright, and Adam Wingard's spooky take on Death Note.

Before the joint-panel kicks off, let's dig into some background on the two titles.

Will Smith in "Bright"

Penned by Max Landis, Bright blends the tough-as-nails cop narrative with fantasy iconography, setting its quest in a modern world where humans co-exist with fairies, orcs, and elves. Will Smith stars as Scott Ward, a human cop whose paired up with the first orc on the force (Joel Edgerton). Together, they must track down a dangerous weapon that a crew of colorful characters are willing to kill for. The film, which is Ayer's follow-up to Suicide Squad, will debut in December. An exact release date has not yet been revealed. But perhaps it will today!

Representing Bright at today's panel will be Ayer, and cast members Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, and Edgar Ramirez.


Based of the manga series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, Death Note is a live-action adaptation that centers on a teen boy named Light (Nat Wolff), who's stumbles across a powerful book that will bringdeath to whoever's name is written in its pages. The freaky film serves as follow-up to Wingard's The Blair Witch (2016), and co-stars The Leftovers' Margaret Qualley as Light's crush Mia, LaKeith Stanfield as a clever detective called L, and Willem Dafoe brings his raspy snarl of a voice to the role of the death spirit Ryuk. Death Note hits Netflix August 25th.

Who will represent Death Note at today's panel is a mystery that will be solved here and soon.


Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Terry Crews will be moderating! He strides out with a big, beeming smile, and a t-shirt that reads, "Force of Nature." Then he introduces the Death Note trailer. Then out comes director Adam Wingard, producers Roy Lee, and Masi Oka, Margaret Qualley, LaKeith Stanfield, and Nat Wolff.

"What I heard there's some pre-existing materials," Wingard jokes about the inspiration. "For us, it was the opportunity to take something with a great premise and breathe life into it." Oka notes that Wingard may joke, but his love of the original manga is deep, and his respect for it is clear in the film.

Wolff tapped into the character of Light by making his own "Death Note" book, and was shocked to discover how many names he wrote in it. He was awed by the power, and took that to the role.

"I hear you have something really special coming up," says Crews. And then a familiar cacke sounds. Ryuk (Willem Dafoe)'s voice cackles to introduce a new scene from the movie.

Sitting in a classroom, Light is reading over the rules in the Death Note. "The human whose name is written in this book shall die." A jar of marbles crashes to the ground and shatters. From behind a shelf, Ryuk. rises, spikes of black against the wall. As he turns toward Light, wind rips through the classroom, slamming shut the door.

Light howls in terror as the red eyes train on him. Desks are overturned. He attempts to hide under the teacher's desk. But that too is ripped away. He's left exposed. And then an apple eaten to its core is chucked at his feet, as a growl of "Shall we begin" reverberates through the room.

Light thinks he's dreaming of some "8-foot tall demon motherfucker." Ryuk laughs at him, "I like that. Dreams are places you can have fun, right? It's all in your mind. So why not enjoy it?" Ryuk taunts him from the darkness, urging Light to go to the window, where he sees Mia being bullied by Kenny Doyle.

"We could--in this dream of yours--take care of a situation like this," Ryuk hisses. "We just put Kenny's name down, and see what happens." Ryuk hands him the Death Note. "I know you want to. Go on. Help her."

Light makes excuses, "I don't have a pen." Ryuk offers one. Light reluctantly takes, it, and with the demon looking on, writes "Kenny Doyle." Ryuk instructs, "Now write how." Light writes, "Decapitation." Ryuk grins, "Now, watch." And as Light turns back to the window the clip ends. The audience wails for not getting to watch.

And with this the questions begin.

Asked what villain scares you, Wingard wins whoops from the audience by answering,  "the president of the United States." Another fan asks the panel why adapt a manga when "so many live-action versions" are bad? That's why, Wingard argues, noting that the challenge appealed to him, along with his love of the property.

Asked about playing the detective L, LaKeith chewed the scenery (and a noisy candy), saying, "I think if we examine ourselves somewhat closely, we find that we're all weird. In the best way. That's what attracted me to L, that's why I let myself be weird."

And that's the final question for Death Note. Crews tells everyone the movie will premiere tonight at Comic-Con at 10PM. Look for reactions after midnight PST.

Now on to Bright. 

"I got up with like 700 bullets in Street Kings thanks to man," Crews says welcoming his "homey" David Ayer.Producers Eric Newman and Bryan Unkeless enter ahead of a platinum blonde Noomi Rapace, Edgar Ramírez, Lucy Fry, Joel Edgerton, and "my man, the biggest movie star in the world, the incomparable WILL SMITH!" The Hall goes wild with cheers and applause. Smith comes out happily yelling, and bear hugs Terry.

Ayer then introduces a new trailer: "Check this shit out."

Officer Scott Ward (Will Smith) in a rundown neighborhood, overrun with gangsters. Meanwhile, he's whacking a fairy snatching sugar from his bird feeder with a snarl, and "Fairy lives don't matter today." They introduce diversity hire Nick Jakoby, the first orc on the first. "Everybody is just trying to get along, and have a good life," Ward says, before the trailer pitches us into a crime scene littered with flaming corpses.

"Shouldn't we wait for the calvary," orc cop asks. "We are the calvary," snarls Ward. They come across Rapace, who seems to be a platinum-blonde elf, wielding a glowing magic wand. This is the McGuffin at the center of Bright. "This is like a nuclear weapon that grands wishes."

Then there's guns, car chases, crashes, and slit throats. Noomi Rapace action hereo, Will Smith sword-weielder. "We might be in a prophecy," Jakoby declares. "We're not in a prophecy," Ward snarks, "We're in a stolen Toyota Corolla."

The lights come up and Ayer is alive with excitement, yelling, "I was able to do my shit here."

Smith is likewise, giddy, calling Bright "Training Day smashed with Lord of the Rings," nothing that it also works as an allegory about race relations and prejudice in modern society through a fantasy lens. Smith jokes, "It's really great to be a African-American cop that gets to be racist against someone." Then he adds, "To narrow the story something down to something human, about how it's a simple and foolish prejudice."

Ayers breaks down Bright's cast system: Elves are "the one-percenters," humans are middle-management, the orcs are the workers, "who get picked on by the cops." Smith explains it's a "snapshot of our world...and at the end of the day, everyone's just trying to have a good life. And then it turns into Bright."

Crews fanboys over Rapace's mysterious character. They haven't told us her name, but have said she's a villainess, and one unlike you've seen before. Ayer champions Netflix for supporting his vision, as opposed to studio films. He declared, "I think Netflix is going to pull a lot more talent, because they are so supportive of the process."

Ayer just dropped the release date: December 22nd. And now a clip.

Okay, this clip has cleared some things up. It's not Noomi Rapace who plays the elf who has the magic wand. That's Lucy Fry, a fairy who teams up with the two cops.

In this scene, the three are bunkered down in a gas station. Ward and Jakoby are handcuffed, their hands behind their backs. Tikka (Lucy Fry) scrambles to unlock them, but before she can a car crashes through the front window, driving the orc into the freezers.

A pair of elves get out of the car and fire at Ward. One of these is Rapace, a white-haired elf in a brocade suit (to die for), whose firing relentlessly on the scrambling cops. Tikka gets Ward a gun. The orc rallies, and they attack the car from either end. Gunfire, scrambling, explosions. Rapace's elf hisses at a backflipping Tikka that she is a traitor.The bad elves are closing in, but a well placed shot at some aersol cans forces them into retreat. Our heroes escape. The convenience store burns. a lone man stands in the fire, tossing off a suit coat.

Smith is absolutely elated to be in this movie. He explains how as a kid, he saw Star Wars and was blown away. He explains, "For my entire life I have been chasing giving that feeling to fans. That level of ecstasy was something I'd never experienced in my life. I had sex a few years later." He joked, "Which was close, but it wasn't Star Wars."

The name explained: Lucy Fry tells us "A Bright is a magic-user." She is careful not to give too much away because "Tikka is a big bag of secrets."

"In the movie, if a human was to touch a magic wand it would just obliterate them," Smith explains, adding you need training to handle it. "Tikka is a baby Bright."

Ayer relishes that Max Landis's script so speaks to the themes he likes to work with like brotherhood, and cops under pressure. Will apologizes for his raunchier jokes, realizing--thanks to a note on the back of his place card--that kids might be in the audience, "and here I am talking about having sex as a teenager." He then brings the panel to a close by re-showing the trailer, "because I want to see it!"

It's played again, the audience cheers at the end. And we're out.

Look for Death Note on August 25th and Bright on December 22nd.

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