Netflix’s first blockbuster movie, the $90 million fantasy-actioner Bright, is a steaming pile of orc shit; a nonsensical garbage pile featuring elves, orcs, a checked-out Will Smith, Chicanx gangster stereotypes worse than those regrettable “Homies” figurines (a trademark of its director David Ayer), and a slow-motion shootout set to Bastille that’ll make you want to go full Sam Neill in the final third of Event Horizon—that is, rip your own eyes out and run around naked attacking people.
It is also, according to the testimonies of several industry people on Twitter, written by an alleged sexual predator.
Bright was written by Max Landis, a 32-year-old screenwriter who became a hot Hollywood commodity after penning 2012’s found-footage superhero film Chronicle. Since then, however, he’s been attached to a string of misfires, from his directorial debut Me Him Her to the forgettable flicks American Ultra, Mr. Right, and Victor Frankenstein. In the wake of Bright’s critical drubbing, people have mocked Landis’ considerable privilege, given both the amount of opportunities he’s been given since Chronicle, a film that was more effects and performance-driven, and the fact that he is the son of John Landis, the celebrated filmmaker behind classics like National Lampoon’s Animal House, Trading Places, Coming to America, and the “Thriller” music video.
Despite the poor reception, Netflix has reportedly green-lit a sequel to Bright, with Smith attached in the starring role. It is unclear if Landis will be writing the script.
In the early hours Friday morning, Netflix’s official Twitter account sent out a tweet promoting the premiere of Bright, set to debut that day. Anna Akana, an actress who appeared in a Landis-helmed YouTube video titled Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling, responded to the tweet, writing: “Written by a psychopath who sexually abused and assaults women, right? Cool.”
The tweet from Akana, who did not elaborate further, led others to take to Twitter and accuse Landis of sexual misconduct—including Zoe Quinn, a prominent video game developer and artist, who unleashed a Twitter thread directed at Landis that began with: “Sometimes men who commit sexual assault are talented screenwriters and their work comes with baggage. other times, they’re Max Landis.” Quinn further alleged that Landis’ abuse was an “open secret” in Hollywood, and that she’d been withholding the story for a while because “him & his dad are powerful figures.”
Talk alluding to Landis’ alleged history of sexual misconduct has been floating around industry circles for quite some time. And back in early November, MAD magazine editor Allie Goertz sent out a cryptic tweet that read, “I can’t imagine who is more scared in a post-Weinstein world than a famous director’s son.” The tweet was, according to several people familiar, about Landis, and the thread prompted a reply from Akana, writing, “Believe you. Support you.”
Earlier this week, Jake Weisman, creator of the upcoming Comedy Central series Corporate, composed a tweet that appeared to be directed at Landis: “Definitely watch that big Netflix movie coming out, written by that fucking psychopath who is one of the worst people alive.” Mike Drucker, a writer for The President Show, replied to it with: “Jake, I have exactly entirely 100% no idea of whom you’re talking about but I just hope he doesn’t have a powerful father in Hollywood who’s covered up for the fucked up shit he’s done.”
Former BBC host and sketch-comedy writer Siobhan Thompson then responded to Drucker’s tweet, writing: “I don’t know who you mean but if that’s true I bet I have SEVERAL friends who have been sexually assaulted by him.”
Landis also has a history of making outrageously problematic statements. Back in 2013, the then 28-year-old rising screenwriting star did an interview with Shelby Sells (that has since been deleted), where he discussed sex and Hollywood—including an episode wherein he alleges that an extra on one of his films tried to pursue him, so he gave her his number “because i was like, why not? maybe i’ll hook her up with one of my friends.”
“Women who are throwing it that easy—they’re not doing it because they think i’m cute, they’re doing it because they need some kind of validation. i’m a tiny, tiny bit successful, but in the scale of things you’re gonna fuck me for no reason? i don’t see it. i’m not on that level. i’m not a rockstar—i’m not in a band, you’re not going to be in my video. the only thing you could get from fucking me is getting to fuck me, and if so, lucky you,” said Landis. “i guarantee that’s not what any of these chicks who just throw it at me really want. granted they’ll have a wonderful time, but it’s weird. being a single guy in LA is fun as fuck and i love it. the fact that everyone here is so good-looking is intense and good and rewarding. something about everyone around you being a little bit better looking, it puts you in a good mood. i don’t feel bad or superficial for saying that. i’m also attracted to ambition and there’s a lot of that out here. but yea being a single guy in LA is great. sorry it took me so long to answer that question.”
Later on in the interview, Landis expounded on an ex he says he “gave a crippling social anxiety, self-loathing, body dismorphia, eating disorder to.”
“i mean you can’t really give someone any of these things, but the seeds of these things were there inside of her. we were in such a sort of unfair, fucked up relationship—not the kind where there’s a lot of yelling and screaming—the actual relationship was very nice and loving, but i was so fickle about her body. i’m not shy, i would just blurt out shit all the time. she ended up completely changing how she dressed and how she looked for me. that chick will never talk to me again,” Landis said.
It should be noted that this wave of allegations against Landis are, at this point in time, just that. The Daily Beast has reached out to Landis’ representation and will update if they respond.