EXCLUSIVE: As the Chris Hemsworth action film Extraction continues on pace to become Netflix’s most watched feature film ever, the film’s writer, Joe Russo, has closed a deal to write another installment of the high action film. AGBO, the company run by Russo and his brother Anthony, are putting the pieces together and are optimistic that Sam Hargrave returns as director, and that Chris Hemsworth will reprise as mercenary Tyler Rake, though those deals won’t be made by Netflix until the script is ready.
“The deal is closed for me to write Extraction 2, and we are in the formative stages of what the story can be,” Russo told Deadline. “We’re not committing yet to whether that story goes forward, or backward in time. We left a big loose ending that leaves question marks for the audience.”
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Those who saw the movie — and judging by Netflix’s estimates a large chunk of the world embraced the fresh IP in a pandemic — the ending left open the opportunity for Rake to return. Several of the characters had past stories though, so there is flexibility if the film took the form of a prequel.
“There was always a simple drive to the story, a balletic execution of action where you take a damaged character who made an egregious mistake in the past and has a shot at redemption which might be fatal,” Joe Russo said. “What was key is that we needed a muscular action director like Sam to be the main creative force in the execution of the action.”
Russo said he expects Extraction director Sam Hargrave (a longtime collaborator with the Russos) to be back at the helm.
As for Hemsworth, there is no deal a this point. Russo said the focus will be to work out the story and then write the script and show it to him before that happens. It doesn’t seem like it will be a hard sell, based on the enthusiasm Hemsworth conveyed on social media this past weekend as he told his followers that the film garnered Netflix’s biggest opening day audience and that it is projected to be watched by 90 million households over the next four weeks. Hemsworth worked with Joe and Anthony Russo, and Hargrave, on Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
Extraction eclipsed Spenser Confidential (85 million), 6 Underground (83 million), Bird Box (80 million), and the Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston comedy Murder Mystery (73 million). Now, the Netflix metric changed and Extraction, Spenser Confidential and 6 Underground got views counted if homes watched for two minutes or more. The others were based on views of 70% or more.
Despite this, it is heady territory for the Russos and their AGBO banner. They are just one year removed from directing Avengers: Endgame and watching it become the biggest global box office grosser of all time with $2.79 billion. And they were consultants on the Jing Wu-directed Wolf Warrior 2, the biggest Chinese film ever. Among their recommendations was to have Hargrave direct second unit and the action scenes in the film, as well as bringing in Frank Grillo to the cast, among other things.
The Russos said they were grateful for the outpouring on Extraction from the likes of Marvel chief Kevin Feige, and the Avengers who were so happy for Hemsworth. They said they were also pleased with the diverse output in AGBO’s early going, as they move toward the release of the Sundance Midnight Section genre film Relic with IFC Midnight, and the Matthew Michael Carnahan-directed City of A Million Soldiers, and Cherry, the Tom Holland-starrer that is their first directing project at AGBO. There is a lot of pivoting in a pandemic, but the outsized successes of Avengers: Endgame and Extraction reinforced the belief under which they formed AGBO.
“It is clearly a shifting market and we have had a great experience with SVOD,” Russo said. “Everyone is going to have to take a moment see what the world is going to hold for the next few years, and make decisions based on what are the best ways to get audiences to see stories. [On Cherry] we’ll just base our decision on that. It doesn’t mean we’ve made a decision.”
Said Anthony Russo: “Our plan for that movie was always to finish it and then show it and figure out the best course of action. We’re still a couple months away from that and we’ll evaluate what to do with Cherry in July.”
Said Joe Russo: “The focus of AGBO was always storytelling that is agnostic in its approach to distribution. We’ve felt for a long time there was going to be a change in distribution and that the more flexible and organic AGBO could behave, the more opportunity would present itself for storytelling. The theory we have been operating under has been effective for us.”
The Russos believe the numbers on Extraction were helped by the decision to shoot in India, which they first visited during press tours on the Avengers films. When they hatched the Extraction idea 12 years ago, the intention was to set it in South America, something they changed when Triple Frontier came out. They settled on India.
“We were shocked we couldn’t think of a significant Western action film that had shot there, and the cultural elements just supercharged the storytelling,” Joe Russo said. “It was combustible and compelling to set it in an emerging market like that.”
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