Netflix has secured the rights to “John Henry and The Statesmen,” an original pitch from writer Tom Wheeler with Dwayne Johnson attached star.
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” director Jake Kasdan” is on board to helm. Netflix landed the rights after a heated bidding war that attracted many of the major studios. The film marks Johnson’s first feature at Netflix, another win for the streaming giant, who is already in production on projects with Mark Wahlberg and Ryan Reynolds.
“Netflix is the perfect partner and platform for us to continue entertaining our global audience in a disruptive way,” Johnson said. “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.”
Wheeler developed the pitch with Hiram Garcia, president of production at Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia’s Seven Bucks Productions. Johnson will also serve as a producer on the film. Kasdan will also produce alongside Garcia and longtime collaborator Beau Flynn of FlynnPictureCo., while Melvin Mar (“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”), FPC’s Wendy Jacobson (“San Andreas”), and Wheeler (“Puss in Boots”) will executive produce.
“We have been committed to an international storytelling model for more than a decade,” Dany Garcia said. “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.”
Netflix’s head of film Scott Stuber added, “Dwayne is a global superstar, inarguably one of the most popular actors in the world. He and Jake are a tremendous duo with a proven track record of entertaining audiences worldwide. We’re delighted to be able to partner with them and collaborate with Seven Bucks Productions and FPC. This is a story with universal appeal and we can’t wait to bring these characters to families around the globe.”
Johnson and Kasdan are coming off the hugely successful “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” which grossed $962 million worldwide. The fantasy adventure earned $404 million in North America, marking a box-office best for Johnson. Up next, Seven Bucks Productions and FlynnPictureCo. are teaming on Disney’s “Jungle Cruise.” Johnson is currently filming “Fast and Furious” spinoff “Hobbs and Shaw” for Universal in London. Meanwhile, Kasdan is in pre-production on the “Jumanji” sequel, which Sony is releasing in December of 2019. Wheeler is the showrunner of the Netflix original series “Cursed,” based on a book he wrote.
Johnson, Kasdan, and Wheeler are repped by WME.
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