Netflix, flush with 100 million new subscribers amid the pandemic, sets its sights on its most financially ambitious feature film so far. Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans will star in The Gray Man, with Joe & Anthony Russo directing their first blockbuster since setting the all-time global box office record with Avengers: Endgame two years ago. The budget is purportedly upwards of $200 million. Their goal is to create a new franchise on the scale of James Bond.
The Russos’ production company AGBO is producing. The script was written by Joe Russo, with a polish pass by Captain America and Avengers films screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The lot of them are Co-Presidents of Story at AGBO. The film is based on the 2009 Mark Greaney novel that introduced the Gray Man, a freelance assassin and former CIA operative named Court Gentry.
The movie will be an action thriller, with two deadly killers for hire 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 had originally been developed at New Regency. It was going to be a Bradd Pitt / James Gray vehicle until it stalled out. The Russos have been keeping it on the back burner for years.
“The movie is a real mano a mano between those two great actors who represent two different versions of the CIA, in what it can be, and what it can do,” Anthony Russo told Deadline. “For those who were fans of Captain America: Winter Soldier, this is us moving into that territory in more of a real-world setting. That’s what this movie really means for us.”
Said Joe Russo on the film’s scale: “The intention is for it to be competitive with any theatrical, and the ability to do with with Gosling and Evans is a dream for us. The idea is to create a franchise and build out a whole universe, with Ryan at the center of it. We have all committed to the first movie, and that’s got to be great to get us to the second movie. These are master assassins, and Gosling’s characters gets burned by the CIA and Evans’ character has to hunt him down. We have a great working relationship with Netflix, and we go back almost 20 years with Scott Stuber. We formed AGBO to be an agnostic storytelling company, where we figure out the best platform. We think Netflix is the perfect place for this film.”
If this works, it will give the Russo Brothers’ AGBO two franchises at Netflix, each based on original IP (the first being Extraction with Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani and Randeep Hooda, which became the most watched Netflix original movie of all time). The new movie puts them back in business with Evans, who like Hemsworth played dominant roles in the four Marvel Avengers movies.
The Russo Brothers also are creating a live-action version of Hercules at Disney, and they are adapting the novel Exit West with Netflix and Michelle and Barack Obama’s Higher Ground Productions.
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