Netflix Pushes ‘The Gray Man’ Start Over California’s Rise In Positive Covid Tests; Streamer’s Biggest Tentpole Is In Pre-Production

Ryan Gosling Chris Evans
(L-R) Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans AP Images

EXCLUSIVE: Netflix has pushed the pause button on The Gray Man while the picture is in pre-production, out of Covid concerns. I’ve heard that while sets are being built in Long Beach, there were a few positive tests as Netflix goes through rigorous protocols, though insiders deny this was the reason for the push. The film is the biggest-budget tentpole Netflix has made so far, with Avengers: Endgame‘s Joe and Anthony Russo directing Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans in a mano a mano espionage thriller. It was scheduled to begin shooting mid-January — cast wasn’t scheduled to gather until the new year — but crew has been told that the picture will be delayed at least two weeks, just out of caution for what is happening in the state and across the country.

With the spiking numbers in California, it is understandable that the studio takes this precautionary move, because it can. This is very different from the incident where Tom Cruise blew up at crew for not following the protocols with enough rigor. The Gray Man wasn’t supposed to start shooting until January 18.

The picture is a high-stakes production with a budget upwards of $200 million, and it is such a big undertaking that a shutdown during production would come at prohibitively high cost. It is the first blockbuster directing assignment for the Russos since their Avengers: Endgame set the all-time global box office record two years ago. The intention here is to create a new franchise with a James Bond level of scale and budget.

The Russos’ AGBO is producing, and the script was written by Joe Russo, with a polish by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who scripted the Russo-directed Captain America and Avengers films and who are co-presidents of Story at AGBO. It is based on the 2009 Mark Greaney novel that introduced the Gray Man, a freelance assassin and former CIA operative named Court Gentry.

The film will be produced by AGBO’s Russo Brothers and Mike Larocca, along with Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum for Roth Kirschenbaum. They are still eyeing that late January start date in Long Beach with international locations being finalized.

The action thriller is a deadly duel between killers as Gentry (Gosling) is hunted across the globe by Lloyd Hansen (Evans), a former cohort of Gentry’s at the CIA. The Gray Man turned into a bestselling book series, and the expectation is that Gosling will continue in multiple installments. The project was developed years back at New Regency as a Brad Pitt/James Gray vehicle, but it stalled. The Russos quietly have been developing it for years.

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