Netflix will be giving its spy thriller “The Gray Man” its own universe. The film was just released on the platform last week and is already a global hit, garnering broadly positive reviews. Seemingly inspired by "John Wick," the action movie starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans will get its very own sequel and spin-off under Netflix's umbrella, the latter written by the team behind “Deadpool.”
The sequel is currently in development, and Gosling and directors Joe and Anthony Russo ("Avengers: Endgame") will return. The Russo brothers, AGBO’s Mike Larocca, and Joe Roth and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum are producing. Stephen McFeely, the co-writer of “The Gray Man,” is writing the sequel.
“We are so appreciative of the enthusiasm that fans across the world have had for this film," Joe and Anthony Russo said of the movie's warm reception. "With so many amazing characters in the movie, we had always intended for 'The Gray Man' to be part of an expanded universe, and we are thrilled that Netflix is announcing a sequel with Ryan, as well as a second script that we’re excited to talk about soon."
The streaming service has been on shaky ground recently and is hoping for the new IP to become a major spy franchise that new and returning subscribers will want to see. Viewers are drawn to franchises, with Paramount’s Sheridan universe (“Yellowstone”) getting spin-off after spin-off and rival Disney+ punching out hits like “The Mandalorian,” “The Book of Boba Fett,” and “Loki.” Disney had the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the spotlight at Comic-Con over the weekend, announcing multiple projects that fans are eager to watch, including a revival of "Daredevil," which Netflix canceled back in 2018.
Anxious to collect more hits in order to keep up with rivals, Netflix spent $200 million on “The Gray Man” — the most expensive film the company has ever made. The streaming giant is likely banking on the movie's success to pick itself up after its not-so-promising second quarter. The question remains if Netflix can pull it off, but this isn’t the streamer's first attempt at a big budget movie franchise either. Netflix dropped $450 million for the rights to “Knives Out 2” and "Knives Out 3." The company also commissioned sequels and spinoffs for Zack Synder’s "Army of the Dead."
Last year, the company acquired the Roald Dahl Story Company in hopes of creating a unique universe but has since canceled projects including the animated series “The Twits” after letting go members of its animation department back in May.
On the original series side of things, Netflix has seen success with its mega-hits “Stranger Things” and “Squid Game." "Stranger Things" will be getting a fifth season and a spin-off, the Duffer Brothers, confirmed last month. Netflix also announced a second season of “Squid Game,” plus a game show that aims to break reality TV records.
Still, with a loss of 970,000 subscribers, Netflix is feeling the pressure to perform. Maybe the company hopes that bringing Ryan Gosling and his Ken doll-like hair on board could be the solution to its woes.