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It's been a while since we last heard an update about the proposed Baywatch movie, with Dwayne Johnson signing on to star all the way back in October of last year. Well, today the film took a huge step forward, and looks like it will actually become a reality, as new reports say that Seth Gordon is now in talks to direct.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news, noting that the filmmaker hasn't been behind the helm of a feature since 2013's Identity Thief. Gordon will be working from a script that has been written by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift (Freddy vs Jason, 2009's Friday The 13th), though it's noted in the trade that they are hardly the first writers to take a crack at Baywatch.
According to the trade report, Baywatch will feature Dwayne Johnson as a lifeguard who is forced to partner with a "young rule-flouting hothead" so that he can save his beach from the hands of an oil tycoon that plans to destroy it.
Hollywood has been actively trying to develop a Baywatch movie since 2004 - thee years after the television series of the same name went off the air - but the challenge in developing the feature has been striking the right tone. Despite being utterly ridiculous, the show took itself entirely seriously, and was soap-y 90s crime drama. That being said, Baywatch has been mocked and satirized in every form imaginable, so it was eventually decided by movie studios that making it an action comedy would be the best way to go with the property. Considering Seth Gordon's history, with movies like Horrible Bosses and shows like Community, Modern Family, and The Goldbergs, he's a fit with this approach.
On paper, the idea of a Baywatch movie sounds ridiculous, but all the film really needs to accomplish to be taken seriously and successful is to follow the 21 Jump Street formula. Take the essential elements from the show - in this case beaches, red shorts, skin - and translate all drama through a comedic, self-aware filter. The movie is already halfway there thanks to the fact that it has Dwayne Johnson attached to play the lead role - it just needs a Phil Lord/Chris Miller-level script to back it up (a lot to ask for, I know).
It's weird to think that this movie is now going to be a Seth Gordon feature starring Dwayne Johnson, when just a few years ago it could have been a Robert Ben-Garant-helmed blockbuster starring Bill Hader. Now that a director is on-board, the plan is to spend the rest of the year in pre-production, and then start filming in the early months of 2016. While no release date has been announced yet, the dates suggest that Paramount is shooting to have the movie in theaters during the summer 2017 season.