Dwayne Johnson's 'Red Notice' Moves From Universal to Netflix as Ryan Reynolds Joins Cast

One of the most expensive Hollywood packages is heading to Netflix. After a fierce bidding war last year for the Rawson Marshall-directed, Dwayne Johnson-starring heist thriller Red Notice ended in one of the biggest movie deals in years, the film is moving from Universal to Netflix. And just as this dramatic switch of distributors takes place, another high-profile star joins the cast that already included Johnson and Wonder Woman‘s Gal Gadot.

Deadline reports that Netflix has acquired the rights to Red Notice more than a year after it first engaged in a multimillion dollar bidding war that Universal ultimately won. But it seems like Universal is giving up its rights to the film, which is set to star Dwayne Johnson as a man who works for the international police agency in what is described as an “international action thriller centered around the pursuit of the most wanted art thief in the world.”

Written and directed by Marshall (who directed Johnson in Central Intelligence and Skyscraper)Red Notice was a hot package last year that had nearly every major studio, including Legendary, New Line, Paramount, and Sony, bidding for it. Universal and Legendary teamed up to pay $20 million for the package, one of the biggest movie deals in recent years. But even with Gal Gadot joining the cast, Universal has decided to give it up to Netflix, which has set a 2020 production start for the film.

As Red Notice makes its move over to Netflix, another A-list star joins the cast. Ryan Reynolds is the latest to be added to the mix. With the three big-name stars attached, that makes Red Notice potentially Netflix’s biggest film yet. This will be Johnson’s first big film vehicle to go to Netflix, which the actor praised as on its way to becoming one of “the biggest movie studios in the world.” Johnson added in a statement accompanying the move:

“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.”

This is certainly new territory for Netflix, which has had high-profile projects before but not a “globetrotting” blockbuster of this scale. The closest title to be described as a blockbuster would be the urban fantasy film Bright, though that was more of a crime drama. With a Johnson film, we can expect big action as well as the big bucks — Netflix is expected to commit a production budget in the $130 million range. This feels like Netflix’s bid to square up against upcoming streaming competitors like Disney+ and Apple. Could it pay off or is Netflix actually swooping in to save a potential box office dud? We’ll see once Red Notice comes to the streaming giant.

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