Netflix will reportedly spend over $200 million (about Rs. 1,500 crores) on an action thriller film called The Gray Man, which stars Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans and will be directed by Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo. That makes it the most expensive movie of all time for the world’s largest subscription-based streaming service; although Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman might have something to say about that, given the various estimates, from $159–250 million. But unlike The Irishman, The Gray Man is expected to be the start of a franchise on the scale of James Bond.
The Gray Man has been written by Joe Russo, with Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely taking a pass on the final draft. The $200-million film is based on the 2009 eponymous novel by Mark Greaney, best known for his contributions to Tom Clancy’s universe. Greaney has penned an additional eight novels in The Gray Man series since, giving Netflix plenty of material if this does indeed up end up being a franchise. The Gray Man is about an ex-CIA operative and freelance assassin named Court Gentry, who goes on missions around the world, from France to Estonia.
Gosling will play Court Gentry on the Netflix film, who is being chased by fellow CIA operative Lloyd Hansen (Evans). Gosling is expected to continue in the role for future entries. Joe Russo said as much to Deadline: “The intention is for it to be competitive with any theatrical, and the ability to do 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 centre 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, [Gentry] gets burned by the CIA and [Hansen] has to hunt him down.”
“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 added. “For those who were fans of Captain America: The 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.”
This isn’t the first attempt to make a film out of The Gray Man. New Regency tried it with Brad Pitt and Ad Astra director James Gray, while Sony Pictures did so with Charlize Theron and Mission: Impossible – Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie. But it never really went anywhere. According to Deadline, the Russo brothers have been “quietly” working on The Gray Man for years. Netflix has confidence in the duo, not only for their records at Marvel, but also due to the Chris Hemsworth-starrer action thriller Extraction, which is now Netflix’s most watched movie of all time.
The Gray Man expects to begin production in January 2021 in Los Angeles. It will be produced by the Russo brothers and Mike Larocca for AGBO, along with Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum for Roth Kirschenbaum.
Can Netflix force Bollywood to reinvent itself? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS. You can also download the episode or just hit the play button below.