Producer Hiram Garcia is a very busy guy. As President of Production at Seven Bucks Productions, which was co-founded by Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia, he runs point from a production standpoint on a number of films and TV shows each year, many of which are massive undertakings unto themselves. 2018 alone saw the release of Rampage and Skyscraper, not to mention the continued box office success of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and 2019 and beyond is stacked with projects that are big, bold, and even new territory for Seven Bucks.
Fighting with My Family, which is a wrestling comedy based on the true story of WWE Superstar Paige, marks Seven Bucks’ first independent production. It debuted at the Sundance Film Festival to a positive response and is due in theaters on February 14th, and with the release impending, I got the chance to conduct an exclusive interview with Garcia about that film and a number of other projects on Seven Bucks’ horizon.
In addition to chatting about how Fighting with My Family came together and what it was like to produce Seven Bucks’ first independent film, Garcia also talked about what fans can expect from Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw and Jungle Cruise, the latter of which will carry an Indiana Jones vibe. Garcia also offered a tiny tease on new settings for the Jumanji sequel and discussed the extent of Seven Bucks’ involvement in the DC movie Shazam!, the status of The King with director Robert Zemeckis, and creating a universe of films at Netflix with John Henry and the Statesmen.
Garcia was obviously limited with what he could reveal, but what follows is hopefully a bit of insight into the diverse slate of films that Seven Bucks has coming down the pike. Check out the full interview below.
Congratulations on Fighting with My Family, which got a positive response at Sundance. This is your first independent production. How did that come about, and what surprised you about going the indie route that you maybe weren’t expecting?
HIRAM GARCIA: Thank you so much! It was an honor to have our film at Sundance! We’re extremely proud of the film and so grateful for the wonderfully positive reception it has received. This all started back in 2012 while DJ was filming Fast & Furious 6 in London. He was unable to sleep one evening and came across a documentary based on Paige and her family. He felt an instant connection to their story having come from a wrestling family himself that did everything they could to make ends meet while putting on wrestling shows. He shared the story with our team and we immediately knew it was the kind of underdog story loaded with heart and soul that Seven Bucks loves to tell. Not only did we feel it was an incredible story, but we felt it was the type of story that could resonate globally.
What made Stephen Merchant the right fit to write and direct Fighting with My Family?
GARCIA: With a story like Paige’s, it was important for us to find someone that could infuse humor and heart while capturing that authentic British tone that comes through so well in the movie. DJ and Stephen have a great history having worked together before and when Merchant raised his hand for the project, we knew he was the right guy. He’s done incredible work in our industry and we knew he would be the perfect fit as our director. He did not disappoint!
Having gone through the process, are there plans to make more independent films at Seven Bucks?
GARCIA: We are lucky to have a very diverse slate right now and have a few projects that could work wonderfully in the independent space. It was such a rewarding experience for our entire company that we’re very excited to explore more opportunities within the indie world.
How did Jungle Cruise turn out? What can fans expect with that project?
GARCIA: Jungle Cruise turned out great. We’re so excited to show fans what we’ve cooked up. The process of making films is never easy, but every now and then you come across a project that is filled with incredibly positive energy and Jungle Cruise was one of those projects. The entire cast and crew became such a close-knit family and it all started with our two incredible co-stars, Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. Add in a phenomenal director and human being in Jaume Collet-Serra, and you have a big fun action adventure loaded with romance and humor. We worked hard to infuse the feel of classics like Indiana Jones, The African Queen and Romancing the Stone and we can’t wait to show this film to the world!
Hobbs & Shaw is now wrapped. How did production go, and what can you tease people about the film?
GARCIA: Hobbs & Shaw just wrapped shooting in Hawaii and man was this a huge production! Obviously when you are making a movie that lives within the Fast & Furious universe you need to go big and deliver on the spectacle, which I’m happy to say we have in spades. But what we’re really excited about is the character and humor that shines through in this film. Dave Leitch did an amazing job with, writer and fellow producer, Chris Morgan’s script by building out a new world while taking fans deeper into the mythos of our iconic leads Hobbs and Shaw. Throw in one of the greatest villains the Fast & Furious universe has ever seen in Idris Elba, then sprinkle some huge surprises along the way, and we’d like to think we have the makings for an unforgettable experience at the theater this summer.
What can you tease about Jumanji 3? Is the film still set in the jungle, or are we expanding to a new video game world? Will the real-world characters (played by Alex Wolff, etc.) be returning or is it new players, thus allowing Dwayne and the cast to fill new personas?
GARCIA: We’re keeping a lot about Jumanji 3 under wraps but for a great reason. We have some really big things planned for this next movie! We are continuing to build out the Jumanji universe and while there will be some jungle elements to our film, our heroes will also find themselves exposed to some very new and foreign terrain. With much of our core cast returning and some very special new additions, we feel like people are going to have a lot of fun with our movie this Christmas.
What is the extent of Seven Bucks’ involvement in Shazam, and how does that film inform Black Adam?
GARCIA: Seven Bucks helped develop Shazam and while the film exists in the same universe as our upcoming Black Adam film, both projects have their own unique tone and vibe. We’re so excited with how the movie turned out and Zachary Levi is perfect as Shazam. Not only is he an extremely talented big guy, that got even bigger for the role, but his good-natured spirit comes through wonderfully when having to portray a 14-year-old in the body of a super hero. This movie is a lot of fun!