Dwayne Johnson Eyes $20M Payday for Action Thriller 'Red Notice' (Exclusive)

A bidding war has developed for the latest collaboration between Johnson and 'Skyscraper' director Rawson Marshall Thurber.
Dwayne Johnson; Rawson Marshall Thurber (inset)   |   Getty Images
A bidding war has developed for the latest collaboration between Johnson and 'Skyscraper' director Rawson Marshall Thurber.

Dwayne Johnson could soon make over $20 million for a new movie as one of the biggest bidding wars Hollywood has seen in years unfolds.

Legendary, New Line, Paramount, Sony and Universal are locked in a multi-million dollar auction for Red Notice, an action comedy that would reteam Johnson with Rawson Marshall Thurber, the writer and director behind his upcoming action movie Skyscraper.

Beau Flynn, who produced Skyscraper, is also on board to produce Red Notice with Johnson and his 7 Bucks Productions partners Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia. 

The project hit the town Tuesday and could not have come at a more opportune time for Johnson. The actor is riding high from the surprise massive success of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which has made $859 million worldwide to date, nd Skyscraper enjoyed buzz from the Super Bowl ad that aired Sunday.

Bidding reached a fever pitch by late afternoon Wednesday, with Johnson’s fee crossing the $20 million barrier. Insiders speculated that he could walk away with up to $25 million, depending on the bidding boiling over. Thurber could receive $10 million to write and direct the movie. 

Crossing the $20 million mark is a major milestone. While Jennifer Lawrence was paid that amount for starring in Passengers, studios keep actor salaries under that threshold, getting creative in deals that usually see stars receive back-end participation. One exception is sequel deals, in which actors (Robert Downey Jr. for Iron Man, Matt Damon for Bourne) have on rare occasion been able to get that fee. Johnson received high-teen millions for Jumanji, according to sources.

Red Notice refers to the highest and most serious of Interpol notices (there are eight) and concerns the arrest of wanted criminals. While details of the plot are unknown, Johnson would play a man who works for the international police agency.

The project is described as a two-hander and comes with a budget between $125 million and $150 million.

While the price tag may seem sky-high, with a star salary not seen in years, Johnson is considered one of the few bankable stars left in an age where Hollywood is obsessed with brands over star power. The actor has proven he can carry comedies and action movies, and even help with animated films, and has an unflappable work ethic.

Not to mention a full plate: In addition to Skyscraper, which opens July 13, Johnson also has New Line’s video adaptation of Rampage, which is set for an April 20 release; a sequel to Jumanji is already in the works and it is a strong possibility that he, along with some of the other stars, will return; and he is due to begin shooting Jungle Cruise for Disney this spring.

WME reps both Johnson and Thurber.