Today in powerhouse Hollywood unions, Dwayne Johnson is headed to Netflix. The streaming giant has secured the rights to a new family adventure film titles John Henry and The Statesmen from The LEGO Ninjago Movie writer Tom Wheeler. Johnson is set to star as the titular folk hero — an American legend famed for his steel-driving skills on the railroad — and will reunite with his Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle director Jake Kasdan. The duo will also produce the film, which will see Johnson lead an ensemble cast of “the most popular figures from folklore and legend from all around the world.”
Also producing are Seven Bucks Productions’ Dany Garcia, Hiram Garcia and longtime collaborator Beau Flynn of FlynnPictureCo. Melvin Mar (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), FPC’s Wendy Jacobson (San Andreas) and Wheeler (Puss in Boots) will executive produce.
“Netflix is the perfect partner and platform for us to continue entertaining our global audience in a disruptive way. These diverse characters speak to a legacy of storytelling that is more relevant than ever and span across a worldwide audience regardless of age, gender, race or geography,” Johnson said in a statement.
Dany Garcia added, “We have been committed to an international storytelling model for more than a decade. Our partnership with Netflix is giving us an incredible opportunity to reach a broad and diverse audience in the most accessible and intimate manner. We are absolutely thrilled with the opportunity.”
This is a smart move by all players involved. Johnson is one of the few reliable superstars internationally, who commands not only box office, but a massive online presence that he operates like a publicity campaign in its own right. And Netflix’s reach is equally enormous, streaming into households in 190 countries around the world. The streaming outlet has made a push on international content in recent years with hits like the German thriller Dark and the Danish apocalypse drama The Rain, and John Henry and The Statesmen’s concept allows for immense international appeal with a bonafide movie star lead that will put the project on everybody’s radar.
Kasdan is in pre-production on a sequel to Jumanji which Sony will release in December 2019, and Johnson is currently in production on Universal’s Fast and Furious spinoff Hobbs and Shaw. John Henry and The Statesmen doesn’t have a release date yet.