In 2017, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was #2 on Forbes’ list of the highest-paid Hollywood actors with $65 million, besting his Fast and Furious rival Vin Diesel and just behind his Pain & Gain co-star Mark Wahlberg. Now, thanks to a $20 million payday promise for the upcoming film Red Notice, Johnson may be poised to maintain or even climb those ranks in the years ahead. That’s a big chunk of change for one movie and the biggest deal for a studio film this year so far, especially considering it’s based on an original idea and not a franchise installment.
As Deadline reports, Universal Pictures and Legendary Entertainment may be the ones who ultimately won the heated bidding war for the picture, but Johnson and writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber are the big winners; Thurber will also net an eight-figure payday for the pic. The original film with tentpole potential is described as a “globe-trotting heist-thriller” set up for Johnson and another lead who’s yet to be named. Few other details are available, but it’s clear that the studio is all-in.
Johnson has Rampage, Skyscraper, and Fighting with My Family scheduled to open this year, but it’s 2019 that will see him return to his status of Franchise Viagra when he appears in the Untitled Fast and Furious Spinoff and, possibly either Shazam! or the Suicide Squad sequel as Black Adam. (I mean, he’s got to make his DC Comics appearance at some point, right?)
For Rampage, Johnson reunited with his Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and San Andreas director Brad Peyton, while he teamed up with Marshall Thurber once more for Skyscraper, following up on their time together on Central Intelligence. I like to think that Johnson keeps a close circle of creative friends and that those relationships played into the contract to land himself and Marshall Thurber a big payday on what Universal/Legendary hopes will be a franchise-starter in Red Notice. The studio pairing is also behind the Skyscraper production, so clearly they wanted to stay in the Johnson/Thurber game.
Expect to see Red Notice in 2020 as the pitch-to-polished production is on the fast track to start filming in Spring 2019. They’re aiming for a $125 million budget, but another lead has yet to be named. Marshall Thurber plans to start writing this Monday, so he’s got reason to celebrate this weekend. Or at least 10 million reasons.