Dwayne Johnson and Netflix are teaming up on a folklore-inspired film titled John Henry and the Statesmen. This will mark the first collaboration between The Rock and the streaming giant, as well as the third project overall for Johnson and director Jake Kasdan. The latter duo previously joined creative forces on 2017's smash box office hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and will reunite to begin shooting Jumanji 3 near the end of this year.
In addition to joining lucrative properties like Jumanji and Fast & Furious, Johnson has spent the last ten years expanding his "brand" to encompass everything from movie adaptations based on a variety of IPs (ex. video games, popular toylines) to original ventures (like this summer's Skyscraper) and even his own HBO TV series in the form of Ballers. Interestingly enough though, The Rock really stepped up his franchise-building efforts a few years ago, around the same time that Netflix started to ramp up its own original movie and TV show content production. As such, it was probably inevitable that the pair would eventually find a project that they could develop together.
Per Netflix's press release, Johnson will star in John Henry and the Statesman as the eponymous steel-driver and lead "an ensemble cast of the most popular figures from folklore and legend from all around the world" in the film. You can check out the teaser for the movie below, along with The Rock's comments on what the John Henry folk story means to him, personally.
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WHEN THE MAN COMES AROUND. Inspired to bring to life one of my childhood heroes, John Henry, in JOHN HENRY & THE STATESMEN. In this movie, I’ll lead an ensemble of the most popular folklore figures and legends from different cultures around the world. @NETFLIX is the perfect partner & platform to bring these global folklore icons to life. The NETFLIX brand speaks directly to our @sevenbucksprod ethos of being bold, ambitious and game changing - and most importantly, always thinking “Audience first” in homes all around the world. The legend of JOHN HENRY’S strength, endurance, dignity and cultural pride was instilled in my DNA at a very young age. My dad would sing “Big John” to me every time he would put me to bed. At bedtime most children get loving nursery rhyme songs — I got this/ Every mornin’ at the mine, you could see him arrive. He stood 6 foot 6 and weighed 245. Kind of broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip. And everybody knew you didn’t give no lip to Big John. Big John. Big Bad John. Directing this big ol’ tentpole is the talented and passionate, Jake Kasdan. Jake and I found nice success together in a little movie called, JUMANJI. Gonna be a lot of fun bringing these legends to life. My childhood hero. The steel driving man and his disruptive band of international folklore legends. JOHN HENRY & THE STATESMEN @sevenbucksprod @danygarciaco @hhgarcia41 @flynnpictureco @NETFLIX
John Henry is based on a pitch that Johnson and his Seven Bucks Production team developed with screenwriter Tom Wheeler, who will (naturally) further write the movie's script. Wheeler is already in the Netflix business, as it were, and is serving as the showrunner for the company's upcoming Frank Miller-backed TV series Cursed (an origin story for the Lady of the Lake, essentially). The writer is also far from a stranger to fairy tales and legends, having previously written the Shrek spinoff Puss in Boots - among other films with broad, crowd-pleasing appeal.
Indeed, "crowd-pleasing" is the name of the game for Johnson and there's fair reason to believe that he will deliver the goods again with John Henry, especially if the results of his efforts on Jumanji with Kasdan are any indicator. Moreover, John Henry is another movie that (like his upcoming Kamehameha biopic The King) is something of a passion project that holds a personal meaning to Johnson, by the sound of it. Good things tend to happen when The Rock really pours his heart and soul into his productions, so that certainly bodes well for his very first Netflix movie.
And, of course, if the film is a success, then don't be surprised if Johnson and Netflix try to turn this one into a full-blown superhero-style franchise revolving around popular folklore figures from around the world.
We will bring you more details on John Henry and the Statesmen as they become available.
Source: Dwayne Johnson