Netflix Inc is turning its new spy thriller “The Gray Man" into a franchise, announcing plans on Tuesday for a sequel and spinoff to the action movie starring Ryan Gosling.
“The Gray Man," one of Netflix’s most expensive movies to date, began streaming on Friday and was the most watched film on the streaming service in 92 countries, the company said.
Gosling stars in the film as Sierra Six, a former inmate sprung from prison by the CIA in exchange for servitude in a secret program.
A “Gray Man" movie sequel is now in development with Gosling and directors Joe and Anthony Russo, Netflix said in a statement.
The company also announced a separate spinoff movie but did not provide details on the storyline or characters.
The expansion of “Gray Man" is part of Netflix’s strategy to build brands with well-known characters that can traverse film, television, video games and movies.
Netflix teams are plotting ways to milk more from Netflix’s bigger shows and movies with universes and characters they can return to again and again. The franchise strategy, details of which are reported here for the first time, is meant to complement Netflix’s efforts to build a vast library of original programming with something for every taste.
“We want to have our version of ‘Star Wars’ or our version of ‘Harry Potter,’ and we’re working very hard to build that,” said Matthew Thunell, the Netflix vice president credited with finding “Stranger Things.” “But those are not built overnight.”
Netflix’s franchise initiative comes at a critical moment, following two rounds of layoffs amid subscriber losses. It is racing to build a lower-cost, advertising-supported version of the service, which it once vowed never to do. On Tuesday, the company is expected to report losing 2 million more subscribers when it announces quarterly earnings. Its shares have sunk 70% this year.
Some of Netflix’s current partners, who requested anonymity to protect their ongoing business relationships, said they have been frustrated by what they see as a lack of collaboration between the film and television groups. This has stymied efforts to capitalize on success through sequels, spin-offs or film adaptations of a hit series, they said.