EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and Legendary won a heated, multi-studio bidding battle for Red Notice, an original action film with tentpole potential that will be written and directed by Rawson Thurber as a star vehicle for Dwayne Johnson. Pic is a globe-trotting heist thriller designed as a two-hander for Johnson and another star yet to be set. It is easily the biggest deal for a studio movie Hollywood has seen so far this year.
Universal and Legendary are already teamed on Skyscraper, another pairing between Johnson and Thurber whose first action-packed trailer was unveiled during the Super Bowl. Red Notice becomes another tentpole idea from Thurber, and it’s not surprising the town went wild when they pitched this week: It’s viable nw IP with global appeal at a time when branded franchises are harder and harder to come by.
Like Skyscraper, Red Notice is produced by Beau Flynn through his FlynnPictureCo. with Johnson, Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia through their Seven Bucks Production banner, along with Thurber. Wendy Jacobson is executive producing. Legendary chief Mary Parent and Universal’s top creative execs Donna Langley and Peter Cramer were all over this.
The producers came with more than a pitch, and Red Notice will follow a remarkably quick track from pitch to finished movie that can be dated for an event slot in 2020. It was a fully fleshed out package with a writer-director, producing team, the biggest movie star on the planet right now, and a start date. Johnson moved around his schedule and guaranteed he will be front and center to start production in spring 2019. It is quick pace for a tentpole movie, but it follows the same markers as Skyscraper, which followed the same kind of track.
Nearly every studio bid on the film, along with Netflix. It came down to Universal, Legendary, Warner Bros, Paramount, and Jumanji maker Sony. It culminated in a team-up of Universal and Legendary, which already have a distribution relationship on Skyscraper. The deal is rich, including a $20 million payday against breakeven gross for Johnson, and an eight-figure salary for Thurber to write and direct. The film will cost upwards of $125 million to make, and another movie star has to be secured. But the foundation is there as Thurber laid out all the beats of the movie to studios this week. He will start writing Monday.
Universal will release Skyscraper on July 13. Red Notice goes into production in early 2019. Johnson also has the Fast and the Furious spinoff Hobbs with Universal, a two-hander with Jason Statham. That made Universal more than eager to keep Johnson in the fold. And he and his Seven Bucks partners are producing with Matt Tolmach the sequel to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the Jake Kasdan-directed blockbuster that just got a deal for Jumanji co-writers Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner to write the sequel script to reteam Johnson with Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan.
WME reps Johnson and Thurber. Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown reps Johnson and Seven Bucks Productions. Hansen, Jacobson et al rep Thurber and Flynn.
Here’s the Skyscraper trailer unveiled during the Super Bowl: