How Netflix’s Most Expensive Project Ever ‘Red Notice’ Could Be A Flop

Who can forget the days of brick and mortar Netflix – when you could walk into the store and rent out your favorite flick to enjoy throughout the evening? Well, those times are long gone as the streaming service has spearheaded a new mode of entertainment consumption, making the act of bingeing your go-to happy show or finding the best new blockbuster as easy as pressing a button on your remote.

With innovation comes competition, as countless entertainment services like Paramount+, Hulu, and Disney+ have emerged, hopping onto the streaming bandwagon. Though, in the race of networks producing larger than life movies and episodic series on beyond lofty, multi-million dollar budgets, Netflix remains as a front runner.

The platform was responsible for this year’s biggest win in binge-worthy content, as Squid Game was released and became a worldwide craze. While the nine episode series only cost Netflix around $21 million to make, it’s international buzz is estimated to make the service around $900 million! With the company making their most expensive deal to date by acquiring Roald Dahl Story Company for $700 million, it’s clear that Netflix is more than willing to put its money where its mouth is to dominate the streaming game.

Netflix is looking for yet another big win with the Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds, and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson starring movie, Red Notice. The action comedy film, which has a  November 12th streaming date coupled with its November 5th theatrical debut, is said to be Netflix’s most ambitious project. The production company dropped $200 million to make the film happen! While it may may have cost a pretty penny to produce, critics and audiences aren’t quite so sure if Red Notice was worth nine figure price tag.

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A Fierce Bidding War

Before Red Notice was in the hands of Netflix, the film was on the table for a number of studios to acquire. A bidding war between virtually all of the top movie-making companies was underway to take up this, then only Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson headlining, action/comedy flick. While the top dogs of the industry – including Warner Bros/New Line, Paramount Pictures, and Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. – were all looking to cash in on this truly expensive project, it was Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures who teamed up to win the rights to Red Notice. Taking on the project alone came with a hefty $10 million fee. The production studios initially had ambitions of spending a proposed budget of $125-$150 million.

Though, just months later, the studio was given the option to shop the film around for any other takers of the massive project. It was then was sold to Netflix, adding Reynolds and Gadot to the cast in the process. Production was briefly halted during the pandemic, only to continue afterward with a 2021 premiere date.

Stars Getting Paid Big Bucks

It would be no less than a crime if the leading actors and actresses didn’t get a pretty hefty paycheck for starring in Netflix’s biggest project to date. According to Variety, Reynolds was slated to make $20 million from his part in Red Notice.

Gadot was reported to make the same amount from her base salary and additionally back end compensation generated from the film’s performance at the box office. Though, coupled with the film receiving less than raving reviews, Red Notice’s streaming release will likely put the starlet in the same predicament as Scarlet Johannsson in Disney’s Black Widow. When Black Widow’s box office performance was hindered by the film’s simultaneous release onto Disney+, the actress’ salary was substantially less than expected, and she took legal action against the entertainment giant.

Because he is credited as a producer, Johnson is said to make millions more than his castmates when Netflix adds his bonuses.

A Box Office Flop?

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Red Notice was only shown in 750 theaters across the country, a slim number compared to its competition. While Netflix doesn’t release the numbers on its film’s theatrical performance, sources from Deadline have projected that it likely made $1.5 million within the first three days that it debuted. Compared to Marvel and Disney’s Eternals a new movie that also reportedly had a $200 million budget – Red Notice’s numbers aren’t stacking up. Eternals made a whopping $71 million on its first weekend, making it the fourth-biggest opening within the pandemic.

While Eternals may have succeeded despite less than favorable critics, it’s looking like Red Notice may not be able to meet the same fate.

“Reportedly the most expensive Netflix original production to date, Red Notice would have benefited if some of its $200m budget had been spent on untangling the screenplay,” says Wendy Idel of The Observer.

If the consensus of Netflix’s streaming audience is anywhere near as unpleased as those who saw the movie in person – or alternatively, decided against seeing it through word of mouth – the network may be in a pickle to make up the hundreds of millions of dollars they funneled into this project.

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Sources: Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Forbes, The Observer

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