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There was a time when Netflix promised it was going to spend a little more conservatively on the streaming service's original films. That window lasted for only a brief moment in time, as films like 6 Underground and Red Notice came along, demanding pretty big budgets for the star power involved. However, the big streaming giant is about to break the bank, as Joe and Anthony Russo are directing their first film since Avengers: Endgame, which will star Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling as opposing CIA operatives.
Deadline reported the news that Evans and Gosling will be going head to head in The Gray Man, a film that’s estimated to cost upwards of $200 million. An adaptation of the Mark Greaney novel of the same name, which kickstarted the literary franchise surrounding ex-spy Court Gentry. Ryan Gosling will be playing Gentry, with Chris Evans playing former co-worker/current adversary Lloyd Hansen. If you think that’s the extent of the good news for The Gray Man, just wait until you hear who’s writing the movie.
The Gray Man, which was previously slated to be a project for Ad Astra collaborators Brad Pitt and James Gray, eventually found its way into the hands of The Russo Brothers’ AGBO production company. This lead to Joe Russo himself writing the new script for this potential franchise starter, with additional rewrites being undertaken by Captain America trilogy/Avengers: Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. You can begin to see why Netflix is ready to shell out the big money for this particular movie, just by looking at the talent involved in the room; but there’s another motive that seems to be at work.
Author Mark Greaney has nine titles in total in the Court Gentry series that starts with The Gray Man. Naturally, when a spy has an extensive literary canon, a studio is ready to go in big in order to secure themselves the next potential James Bond style enterprise. Considering Netflix was among the suitors that tried to acquire the 007 series, just like its competitors Apple and Amazon have tried to do in the past, this move comes as a pretty savvy follow up. Though there’s a potential downside to spending over $200 million on Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling going head to head, as we’ve seen a similar prospect go down the tubes earlier this year.
Even with the backing of the James Bond powerhouse known as EON Productions, and with Blake Lively starring in the lead, Paramount’s The Rhythm Section failed to capture the fans that those involved were hoping would show up for another prospective page-to-screen espionage franchise. So if a series with the official Bond family stamp of approval putting it into production can crash and burn, what’s to say that The Gray Man’s star power can save it?
It’s going to be interesting to see how The Gray Man progresses, as it’s being penciled in to start production in January 2021, with a host of international filming locations yet to be determined. Still, on paper, seeing Joe and Anthony Russo directing, with a familiar writing team and a pair of hot leads involved, does feel like an equation that could see a rather sizable endgame. As soon as new details surrounding The Gray Man are made available, you can count on CinemaBlend to break the news as it happens.