Netflix has picked up Dwayne Johnson’s heist thriller Red Notice, whose cast now also includes Ryan Reynolds. Universal was originally set to produce Red Notice, alongside its partner Legendary, after winning the movie in what was described at the time as a ferocious bidding war. The movie already looked like a potential tentpole film with international superstar Johnson attached and reportedly receiving a $20 million payday, but became even more intriguing after Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot hopped aboard as well.
Rawson Marshall Thurber, Johnson’s director on both Central Intelligence and Skyscraper, is set to helm Red Notice, which is described as a globetrotting heist film. Production was at one time reported to be touching off in early 2019, but the movie’s release date was ultimately pushed back to late 2020, and the start of production was also moved back. Johnson of course has a very busy schedule, with Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Jumanji: The Next Level, and Jungle Cruise all coming out before Red Notice.
Now, in a very interesting development, Universal has moved on from Red Notice, with Netflix coming in to take over. As reported by Deadline, Universal first balked at moving forward with the film after director Thurber pitched a budgeted screenplay late last month. Thanks to clauses in the original deal, a window opened during which the movie was pitched to Netflix, who immediately signed off (Netflix was reportedly narrowly beaten out by Universal in initial bidding for the film last year). Sweetening the deal even further is the addition of Ryan Reynolds to the cast, a move that now gives Red Notice three bona fide superstars. The film has been greenlit to begin production in 2020.
Details on the plot of Red Notice are hard to come by, but the story reportedly involves an international agent pursuing a wanted art thief. It’s also been reported that the script contains a third main character, the story’s villain. It’s not yet known which part will go to each of the movie’s three stars. Red Notice now actually becomes the second teaming between Johnson and Netflix, who previously came together to begin development on John Henry and the Statesman, a folklore-inspired tale. But, Red Notice will actually go into production before John Henry, making it Johnson’s actual first Netflix movie.
Interestingly, news of this deal comes on the heels of a separate report saying Netflix was planning to cut back on movie spending after this year’s action thriller Triple Frontier proved to be a failure for the streamer. With stars like Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot attached, Netflix may feel more confident about Red Notice delivering the kind of viewing numbers they’re hoping for with their bigger productions, making them more willing to spend despite being burned before. Previously, Netflix did very well with star-led productions Bright and Bird Box, but Red Notice feels like a leap into an even bigger league, given the star power involved, and the globetrotting action-thriller plot.