In what would amount to its biggest budget feature project yet, Netflix is partnering with Skydance Media on Six Underground, an action thriller that Michael Bay will direct with Deadpool‘s Ryan Reynolds starring. Sources said the commitment here is in the $150M range, and Bay will start production this summer for 2019 release.
The project was developed by Skydance from a script by Deadpool screenwriters Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, and it’s a high testosterone mission movie. Bay and Skydance announced in March their intentions to make the film together, with Skydance’s David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Don Granger will produce Six Underground along with Bay.
WME reps Bay and Reynolds, the latter of whom comes off a $300 million global opening for Deadpool 2.
As for Netflix, this is the latest big project to come along even as some media and the Cannes Film Festival put out a vibe to try and marginalize its movie initiatives. The argument rang hollow. The festival and Netflix reached an impasse over showing its films at the festival — overly dramatic, because Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma and Paul Greengrass’s Norway both would have been hard pressed to be ready, said sources, and both are better positioned for awards season release after Venice, Toronto or Telluride bows — Netflix made several sizeable deals during Cannes.
Netflix made one of the biggest deals in the Cannes market with a $30 million deal for the animated film Next Gen, and it was during the festival that Deadline broke news that it is in discussions to take on the Steven Soderbergh-directed Panama Papers drama The Laundromat, which has Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, and Antonio Banderas starring. Netflix set Jennifer Aniston and Tig Notaro to play the U.S. president and her First Lady wife in First Ladies. It seems like there are three deals a week now.
While Netflix likely will have to keep evolving its model to have more of a theatrical presence, it is doing too many risky things on the feature front to be defined derogatorily at this point, especially by a French festival that risks rendering itself arcane by not using its clout to change French chronology rules that keep French-distributed films from SVOD for three years. All the festival did was dismiss what might have been some of the more interesting releases on its schedule, as Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories were last year.
Netflix made its first franchise foray in Bright, the Will Smith-Joel Edgerton starrer that is being sequelized despite being critically panned. Six Underground continues to push the envelope.