Wowzers! Ryan Reynolds has signed on to join Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot in Rawson Marshall Thurber‘s international action movie Red Notice, which in an eyebrow-raising move, has shifted from Universal to Netflix.
But let’s back up, first. Red Notice was a hot studio package that Universal won last year in a bidding war, trumping Netflix at the time. When Skyscraper was preparing to hit theaters last summer, Thurber promoted the film on Collider Movie Talk, and hinted that he had a third lead in mind for Red Notice, to which Johnson and Gadot had already signed on to star. I tried to convince Thurber to tell me off the record, and when that didn’t work, I asked my sources, but the trail, it seemed, had quickly gone cold. I suppose you could chalk up the loss of momentum to Skyscraper‘s box office performance, since it grossed just over $300 million worldwide, including just $68 million domestic — not nearly enough for a film that cost $125 million before marketing, even with Chinese partners picking up most of the tab.
According to Deadline, Thurber showed Universal his final draft last month, as Red Notice has to start production soon if the studio still hoped to release the big-budget movie as planned on Nov. 13, 2020. Apparently, the studio had some reservations. When Thurber and his producers pointed to the progress-to-production clauses in the original contract, Universal agreed to let them take it elsewhere, and Netflix, led by Scott Stuber, quickly pounced. The deal closed over the holiday weekend, and Red Notice is probably the most expensive project Netflix has ever committed to on paper, though I have no idea what the final price tag will end up being on Martin Scorsese‘s The Irishman. Deadline claims the production budget for Red Notice is $130 million, but I wonder if that includes talent deals. We know that Johnson is being paid $20 million, while Thurber is being paid at least $10 million. And if Johnson is getting his full fee, then I think it’s safe to assume Reynolds and Gadot are making around $15 million each… maybe even more for Reynolds, who also stars in Netflix’s upcoming action movie 6 Underground from director Michael Bay. I just don’t see how Netflix can pay all those star salaries and deliver a globetrotting epic for less than $180 million.
Regardless of how much it costs, Red Notice is a huge get for Netflix, and it’s expected to start production next year, though it’s unclear whether the film will be available on Netflix in time for the holidays, or whether the streaming service will hold it for the summer of 2021. Netflix doesn’t have to spend a year marketing its films, unlike most studios, who often begin dropping teaser posters and trailers at least nine months in advance.
Red Notice, which takes in multiple countries, is described as an international action-thriller centered around the pursuit of the most wanted art thief in the world. Johnson is producing with his Seven Bucks partners Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia, as well as his old pal Beau Flynn and Thurber. Scott Sheldon will serve as an executive producer. Flynn and Seven Bucks are also in business with Netflix on John Henry and the Statesmen, which is being developed as a star vehicle for Johnson, who touted Netflix’s ability to turn Red Notice into a global event.
While a recent report in The Information suggested that Netflix may curtail spending in the wake of Triple Frontier, this news certainly doesn’t jibe with that, and Triple Frontier has been watched by roughly half of Netflix’s 125 million-plus members, so the idea that the Ben Affleck–Oscar Isaac movie didn’t accomplish its viewership goal seems unlikely to me. Reviews may not have been uniformly positive, but it got people talking and clearly led to more A-list stars doing Netflix movies and the industry shedding any stigma about the streaming service.
Reynolds, Johnson, Gadot and Thurber are all represented by WME.