With street closures, multiple security checkpoints, fan-filled bleachers and Ted Sarandos bobbing his head to beats from a nearby DJ all within the L.A. Live event complex, Wednesday night’s world premiere for Netflix’s Red Notice delivered a scene reminiscent of a major Hollywood award show like the Emmys. Or, you know, that other one.
“This is the biggest carpet I have been to since the Oscars,” Gal Gadot told The Hollywood Reporter as she surveyed the upgraded surroundings designed to celebrate the reveal of the Rawson Marshall Thurber heist film that pairs her with Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds. “The Oscars right before COVID.”
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Both the scale of Netflix’s premiere and the pandemic dominated the conversations last night, and for good reason. Production on the film — the streamer’s most expensive project ever — was halted on March 14, 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic tightened its grip in the United States and brought much of regular life to a grinding halt. It resumed months later, in September in Atlanta, amid strict protocols as one of the first major Hollywood productions to do so.
There was much to celebrate because of that and it was clear that Netflix spared no expense for the premiere, too. The red carpet sprawl — “I love the color,” Gadot also noted while dressing for the occasion in a sparkly Loewe and Tiffany and Co. gems — featured recreations of the set, towering images of the trio and a mini-arena with a custom stage, hype man (flown in from San Francisco) and host in E!’s Justin Sylvester for a YouTube live stream.
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Johnson, Gadot, Reynolds and Thurber each took turns on stage to speak with Sylvester and participate in a Q&A with both seated and virtual fans. During his spin in the spotlight, Johnson announced the news: “This is the biggest event Netflix has ever had — ever!” Moments later during a chat with THR, he explained what that means to him, both as a star and a producer on the film alongside Beau Flynn, Seven Bucks Prods. partners Dany and Hiram Garcia, Thurber, Scott Sheldon and David Householter.
“I was telling Ted Sarandos earlier that I really feel it’s reflective of the ambition that the company has, not only to make great movies but also to deliver for people,” said Johnson, in Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label velvet suit jacket and trouser. “And the surprises are in there for the audience, too. People are going to have to watch.”
Pay close attention to his interactions with Reynolds. “Between this movie and Jungle Cruise with [Emily Blunt], I have not laughed more. With Ryan, we have great chemistry and not only that, we have great trust. I’ve known him for 20 years but in terms of being a star, the truth is when you work with someone of Ryan Reynolds caliber or at his level, a lot of actors that I’ve worked with, they don’t necessarily have a real funny bone or a real sense of humor. Ryan has that,” explained Johnson. “But dude, as he likes to say, we wasted millions of dollars of Netflix’s money by laughing constantly and ruining takes.”
Migrant boat capsizes in English Channel; at least 31 dead
CALAIS, France (AP) — At least 31 migrants bound for Britain died Wednesday when their boat sank in the English Channel, in what France’s interior minister called the biggest migration tragedy on the dangerous crossing to date. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said 34 people were believed to have been on the boat. Authorities found 31 bodies — including those of five women and a young girl — and two survivors, he said. One person appeared to still be missing. The nationalities of the travelers was not immediately known. © Provided by Associated Press French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin answers the press in Calais, northern France, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021.
Reynolds got specific by saying it’s actually 21 years, and they met during respective press tours while Johnson was promoting Scorpion King and Reynolds Van Wilder. “We hit it off and have been friends ever since,” said the actor, in a Giorgio Armani burgundy corduroy three-piece suit and accompanied by his mother who was often spotted proudly filming her son during his interviews. “There’s such an easy, crazy shorthand between us when we’re on set. We had it on Hobbs and Shaw, and we knew we’d have it here as well.”
The big difference this time around was managing the work amid a deadly pandemic that forced the crew to isolate in a bubble while filming for months. To help soften the blow, Reynolds recorded personal videos for each crew member that they could send to anyone in their life. As THR previously reported, Reynolds recorded more than 400. “Sometimes their families were a mile away, they were in a van and they couldn’t go anywhere because of this lockdown,” he recalled. “It was a privilege to do it. I just did it in between takes, whenever I could. It was lovely. I know it sounds like a lot, but it was nothing.”
Channel deaths fuel UK-France tensions over migrant boats
LONDON (AP) — The deaths of at least 27 people in the English Channel is fueling tensions between the U.K. and France over how to stop migrants from crossing the world’s busiest waterway in small boats. Despite a pledge from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron that they would “do everything possible” to stop people smugglers from endangering lives, politicians on both sides of the channel are already blaming their counterparts for failing to prevent Wednesday's tragedy.
Red Notice casts Johnson as the FBI’s top profiler John Hartley, following him after Interpol-issues a Red Notice, the highest level warrant for a most-wanted individual. His global pursuit lands him in the middle of a heist where he’s forced to partner with the world’s greatest art thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds) in order to catch the world’s most wanted art thief, known as The Bishop (Gadot). Oh, and Thurber also has a role playing “exhausted film director,” quite a stretch he laughed.
“I feel like I’ve been preparing my whole life,” quipped Thurber, who didn’t have to exhaust much energy though to get his cast, each of whom he noted were his first choice, or “three number ones.” “And certainly for this entire production, this was a real challenge. We were halfway through shooting when the pandemic hit. We had to shut down. So it was exhausting, but I always try to have a little cameo if I can. And Dwayne made it easy for me. I’m at the bar and that’s where I’m most comfortable.”
But back to COVID-19, the producers explained what a heavy lift the film was due to stopping, starting and navigating protocols and an expanding budget. It was all worth it, said Dany Garcia. “There’s no version in our industry where you commit to using individuals, their skills and talents and you don’t take ownership for their wellbeing and safety. It’s just part of doing business and it’s the right way to do business.”
Channel migrant deaths: Smugglers net millions per kilometer
CALAIS, France (AP) — The price to cross the English Channel varies according to the network of smugglers, between 3,000 and 7,000 euros. Often, the fee also includes a very short-term tent rental in the windy dunes of northern France and food cooked over fires that sputter in the rain that falls for more than half the month of November in the Calais region. Sometimes, but not always, it includes a life vest and fuel for the outboard motor. AndOften, the fee also includes a very short-term tent rental in the windy dunes of northern France and food cooked over fires that sputter in the rain that falls for more than half the month of November in the Calais region.
She said seeing the film celebrated the way it was last night made her a bit emotional because of what they went through in making it. “Our crew was phenomenal and so was our talent — they all just came through and delivered. So to have this land in this manner here tonight and have a premiere like this, it feels appropriate and so open and so Hollywood.”
That’s a credit to Netflix, again, a company Flynn also praised for paying their crew for two months right after they shut down last March while they figured out how best to proceed. “We took a weekend off and we were right back at it. We spent six months trying to figure out how to get the movie back, all over Zoom. They paid our crew for two months while we were down, over 700 people,” said the veteran producer and frequent collaborator of Johnson and the Seven Bucks team over 11 years and nine movies. “That was amazing because a lot of people were not prepared. They thought they had a big job ahead of them and then it was just gone in a day. It really incentivized everyone to work really hard.”
But on a night like Wednesday, it was less work and more play. Ahead of the film’s premiere, Netflix hosted a VIP reception that featured dueling bars pouring Johnson’s Teremana Tequila from a “Mana Mobile” while Reynolds’ Aviation Gin was being offered up across the way. “To have an event like this, where all this is going on, there’s just a sign that we are getting back to a new norm,” explained Hiram Garcia. “And to be able to have a premiere like this, this big and open out in the wild, it’s pretty awesome.”
Epic is the word Flynn leaned on. “It’s also so cool, especially on the back of COVID. Everyone had to show their vax cards and be tested in order to be here and they really went for it, but it feels good. This is why we’re in this business, right? That’s why we’re here.”
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