DC has Batman, Marvel has Ironman, and now, Netflix has The Gray Man.
Well, being gray (grey) doesn’t sound like the most exciting ability enhancer when we compare it to Bat and Iron, but what matters is that Netflix believes in its potential.
The Gray Man is a spy thriller starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, and is Netflix’s most expensive movie to date. Investing US $200 million (S$279 million) into both marketing and production, the hope is that this film, which debuts on 22 July in Netflix (of course), launches a hit franchise that attracts much-needed new subscribers.
Kind of like how Ironman started the whole superhero thingy.
With Netflix having shed 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of this year which led to stock prices taking a nosedive and US$54 billion being erased in a single day, the stakes are high for The Gray Man.
Gosling stars as Sierra Six, a former inmate sprung from prison by the CIA in exchange for servitude in a secret program. When he accidentally uncovers dark agency secrets, he becomes a primary target and is hunted around the world by psychopathic former colleague Lloyd Hansen and international assassins.
“I’ve always wanted to make an action movie,” Gosling told Reuters. “Action was my first love. It made me fall in love with movies in the first place. It took a minute to get there and find the right one.”
The Gray Man is based on a novel by Mark Greaney and directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, the brothers who helmed Marvel’s mega-blockbuster Avengers: Endgame.
The Gray Man’s High Production Cost
The Russos said Netflix allowed them to bring their full vision to the screen. The Gray Man was filmed at seven locations around the world from Azerbaijan to Croatia and France.
“We wanted to be very ambitious with this movie,” Anthony Russo said. “It is hard to shoot action. It’s expensive to shoot action, and Netflix was up for this level of ambition.”
Of course, when the people behind Avengers said this, you can bet it’s going to be really action-packed.
The movie packs in nine major action sequences, including a lengthy gun battle in a public square in Praque.
Ryan Gosling & Christ Evans, The Two Golden Men
For this movie, a stunt team put Ryan Gosling through his paces during the intense physical training for the role. “They went through all these different styles of martial arts and tried to curate it for you and the character,” he says.
Gosling also worked with a former member of Delta Force, a high-level special operations unit in the United States military.
Chris Evans plays Gosling’s nemesis, the assassin named Lloyd Hansen who was expelled from the CIA for excessive tactics.
Playing Gosling’s psychopathic nemesis was also an enjoyable change of pace for Evans, 41, who is more used to saving the day as the Marvel superhero Captain America.
During a media interaction, Evans, had revealed that while developing a back story for Lloyd, he chose for him to be a bad guy through and through, stating that he wanted him to have “no redemptive qualities in the way most bad guys do”.
Marketing for The Gray Man
Apart from Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling, other famous actors such as Ana de Armas, Wagner Moura and Rege-Jean Page also star in The Gray Man.
Of course, when spending millions on cast that famous, Netflix wants to make sure people know the title is coming. With $150 million spent on the production, executives at Netflix pushed for the company to spend more on its marketing as well.
The streaming service orchestrated one of its biggest promotional pushes ever ahead of the 22 July streaming debut of The Gray Man. The campaign included billboards in several cities, as well as TV advertising spots during major sporting events.
Additionally, executives also pushed for the company to release its movies in theatres, believing that will generate additional money and awareness. Netflix shut down a block of Hollywood Blvd. for a premiere of the movie at the TCL Chinese Theatre, a 95-year-old venue in the heart of Hollywood.
The event had the feel of a classic movie premiere, as stars traipsed down a lengthy red carpet and guests snacked on fried chicken and donuts. After the showing, they ventured to an after party at the nearby Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, the site of the very first Academy Awards
Reactions After Release in Theatres
The reaction from film critics has been mixed. As of Monday, The Gray Man had a 52% positive rating among reviews collected on the Rotten Tomatoes website. Audiences were more enthusiastic, with 89% of commenters on the site giving a thumbs-up.
The campaign is a test for the world’s most popular paid video service, which historically does not prioritize marketing titles before their release. If successful, The Gray Man could officially become a trailblazer for Netflix’s new marketing strategy.
But then again, if you remember, hits like Money Heist or Squid Game were sleeper hits: not much marketing was done before they became a Netflix sensation.
Only time will tell if The Gray Man would start a new universe, or die off like the many other Netflix movies.
Here’s the trailer for The Gray Man:
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