Shooting Begins on Netflix’s Pricey Dwayne Johnson Action Movie

Published on January 22, 2020

The biggest movie star in Hollywood is dipping his toes in Netflix’s pool. Dwayne Johnson is making his first movie ever for the streaming service, titled Red Notice, which co-stars Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds.

A year or two ago, Netflix lost a bidding war to Universal for the action-thriller, but Universal dropped the rights and Netflix swooped in to pick them up, paying heaps of pretty pennies for it. Now, filming has officially begun on Red Notice

What is Red Notice?

It’s an “international action thriller centered around the pursuit of the most wanted art thief in the world” that will cost Netflix $130 million to make. Throw in marketing and ad money, it’s much more than that price tag.

Johnson is worth the cost, though, as his family-friendly brand rarely misses with his global audience. He is, after all, the highest paid actor in the world at the moment, following his work in the Fast franchise and a number of other box-office hits that are typically too safe to fail. For Red Notice, Johnson has a payday of $20 million, although almost half of that will probably go to agents, managers, and Uncle Sam in taxes. 

What Else to Know About Red Notice

There’s no word if Johnson is playing the art thief or the man hunting down the thief, but more often than not, he’s the good guy. It’s safe to assume he’s not the thief in the movie, which reunites him with director Rawson Marshall Thurber.

Thurber directed Johnson in two movies lighter than fluff, Skyscraper and Central Intelligence. The latter comedy is quite entertaining, actually, although not as loud-out-loud funny as Thurber’s finest hour, DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story. Thurber, by the way, received an eight-figure deal from Netflix for the project. They bought his vision and signed off on a complex deal and schedule to get three major A-listers together. Quite a herculean feat. 

A Logical Career Step for Johnson 

Two filmmaking titans as big as Netflix and Johnson were bound to collaborate at some point. They don’t need each other, but damn it, they want each other. It’s a good career move for Johnson, who’ll probably reach more eyeballs than ever on Netflix. When Johnson and Netflix announced their artnership, Johnson was as enthusiastic as usual:

“Their original content generates critical acclaim and invites full collaboration on every level of production. Their unbridled enthusiasm for Red Notice is equally matched by their commitment to entertaining audiences on an international scale. As the landscape of movies, distribution and audience consumption continues to evolve, our Seven Bucks focus is to continue to find the best platform and partners to thrive in this ever changing environment. Director/writer Rawson Thurber has delivered a dynamic script that me and my co-stars and partners-in-heist, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds, can’t wait to shoot. The fun we’re gonna have making Red Notice, but more importantly — the fun the worldwide audience will have watching it in 190+ countries — all at the same moment.”

The Dwayne Johnson Blockbuster Problem 

Dwayne Johnson is a great movie star, if not already one of the greatest of all time, and a very underrated actor. His charisma and watchability know no bounds. Nobody can do what Dwayne Johnson does. Nobody. What’s disappointing is, as great as he is, his movies usually are not. They’re very soft and down-the-middle in execution. Arguably that’s because Johnson rarely works with auteur directors. He could really use his own James Cameron or A-list director, some visionary who knows how to make an A-grade popcorn movie.

Johnson has entertained the world over and over again, but when he is going to truly blow audiences away with a movie as high in quality as his talents? With the exception of Fast Five and The Rundown, we’re still waiting for that movie.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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