DEADLINE – EXCLUSIVE: Fresh from an earnings report that saw it add 10 million subscribers during the pandemic, Netflix has just set its most financially ambitious feature film so far. Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans are set to star in The Gray Man, with AGBO’s Joe & Anthony Russo directing their first blockbuster since setting the all-time global box office record with Avengers: Endgame two years ago. The intention here is to create a new franchise with a James Bond level of scale and a budget upward of $200 million.
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 eyeing a January start date in Los Angeles 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.
“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.”
VARIETY – Months after Universal successfully relaunched its monster universe with Elisabeth Moss’s “The Invisible Man,” the studio is pushing ahead for “Wolfman” — which is being developed as a starring vehicle for Ryan Gosling — to be the next movie based on its catalog of iconic creatures.
Sources tell Variety that executives at Universal have been meeting with directors over the past month and could be making a decision soon on who will take the reins behind the camera. While there is no frontrunner at the time, Cory Finley, who recently received rave reviews for directing HBO’s drama “Bad Education” with Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney, is said to be in the mix for the job.
Universal and CAA had no comment.
Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo, who wrote for Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” penned the script, which is based on an original pitch by Gosling.
Gosling’s take fell in line with the studio’s new vision for its monster movies. Universal had originally planned on creating an interconnected universe with its vast catalog of monster IP. However, the studio reassessed after “The Mummy” with Tom Cruise misfired, and decided to move forward with filmmaker-driven projects based on the monsters’ legacies, focusing on what made the characters endure over time. Instead of prescribing a mandate that the films be part of a larger scheme, Universal loosened those restrictions and open-sourced to filmmakers to create their own unique stories.
Everyone from James Wan to Paul Feig and John Krasinski has given pitches on the characters they would love to tackle. Each of those films are in various stages of development, with many that are just pitches still seeking writers. But studio insiders have stressed that by loosening the universe restrictions, it allows for more opportunities to present themselves and the hope of the next monster movie having similar results as “The Invisible Man.” “The Invisible Man” cost $7 million to make, and earned $122 million at the box office before movie theaters were forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Timing for “Wolfman” is also in question. While it seems to be in good position to get off the ground, an exact production start date is still up in the air. Besides the fact that Gosling himself would have to close a deal to star, he is also currently set to lead an untitled astronaut film at MGM. That movie, an adaptation of “The Martian” author Andy Weir’s upcoming novel, recently hired Phil Lord and Chris Miller to direct. By all accounts, that seems to Gosling’s next project.