New York Comic-Con has begun, starting the hype train for projects that weren’t ready in time for San Diego Comic-Con. This includes Free Guy, the mostly-under-the-radar action comedy Ryan Reynolds shot over the summer with Night at the Museum and Stranger Things director Shawn Levy. (Free Guy is written by the guy who wrote the “hot Santa who f-cks” Netflix movie. So this is going to be A Ride.) Free Guy is about a video game “non-player character” who gains sentience within the world of his video game. Reynolds plays Guy, the NPC, and Joe Keery and Jodie Comer play a couple of gamers. Taika Waititi is also on board in an unspecified role. For NYCC, Reynolds, Comer, Keery, and Waititi made a teaser video which doesn’t really illuminate anything about their movie. It does, however, clarify that Reynolds and Waititi have never, ever met. Check it out:
(Am I the only person who gets weirded out whenever she hears Jodie Comer’s natural accent? I always forget that’s what she actually sounds like.) We don’t have any actual footage from Free Guy yet, but they did screen some early stuff for the crowd at NYCC. Sounds like it went over well. This is a summer 2020 release, which means we’ll probably get a trailer around the holidays. Also worth noting that this is a Disney-Fox production, and with Deadpool’s fate in the now-merged MCU still undecided, this is a way to keep Reynolds occupied and happy while they figure out what to do with his R-rated character that now belongs to a family brand.
I’ll be interested to see what this movie really looks like, and how much it does or does not feel like Jumanji. This is a pretty clear response to the success of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and it comes out seven months after Jumanji: The Next Level. It’ll be interesting if they sell Free Guy as an action-adventure, like Jumanji, or if they focus on this being a “Ryan Reynolds movie”. One thing about Disney marketing, it doesn’t usually center on the star. They focus on the brand (Marvel/Pixar/Lucasfilm/Disney Animation), and the characters, actively contributing to the death of the Movie Star but also making it easier to apply the same playbook across multiple properties. You don’t have to tailor each press tour to the star, the stars tailor their persona to the press. But ever since the success of Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds’ movies have been sold as “Ryan Reynolds movies”, and it works every time. In the post-Movie Star era, he’s managed to turn himself into a Movie Star. With Fox’s marketing department devastated by the merger, it’ll be Disney’s playbook at work for Free Guy. So far, Disney has done abysmally with the Fox movies they’ve inherited, but maybe things will be different for Free Guy? We can dream. And hey, it’s a chance for Reynolds and Waititi to rewrite their history together, following this debacle:
Honestly, it’s a miracle we lured Taika Waititi back to Hollywood.