Ryan Gosling’s The Gray Man becomes Netflix’s top movie, next franchise

Ryan Gosling The Gray Man
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix is doubling down on The Gray Man, as the streamer has plans to turn the Ryan Gosling movie into a full cinematic universe with sequels and spin offs. The news comes just days after the movie, reportedly Netflix’s most expensive original movie ever, was the most-watched movie on the streaming service for the week of July 18-24.

The Gray Man, based on Mark Greaney’s ongoing Gray Man series, stars Ryan Gosling as the skilled operative Sierra Six, known as the Gray Man because there is no record of him. In this first movie, Six is forced to go on the run when he discovers dark CIA secrets. But the agency hires a sadistic private contractor to track him down and retrieve the info. 

In addition to Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Regé-Jean Page, Jessica Henwick, Billy Bob Thornton, Julia Butters, Dhanush and Alfre Woodard all starred in the movie, with Anthony and Joe Russo (the Russo Brothers) as the directors and Stephen McFeely, Christopher Markus and Joe Russo credited as writers of the script.

Gosling and the Russo Brothers are returning for the sequel in their respective roles, as is McFeely, already working on the script for The Gray Man 2. Gosling may be the only confirmed cast member as of now, but it’s likely more characters from the first movie are going to return from what Anthony Russo hints at.

"I can’t get too specific about where we see the character going in the next movie because it’s so early days, but we designed a big ensemble in this film because we love ensemble storytelling," Russo told Netflix’ Tudum blog. "Having a bunch of interesting characters creates a lot of possibilities in terms of where you’re gonna go in future storytelling, because there’s so many compelling characters played by so many compelling actors and they’re all worth further exploration."

Netflix teased that there is more than enough source material for an ongoing Gray Man franchise (Greaney has written 11 Gray Man novels as of 2022), plus enough for a spinoff movie that is being worked on by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese (Deadpool, Spiderhead).

Though critics weren’t enthusiastic about it — What to Watch’s The Gray Man review called it a "drab action thriller" and its Rotten Tomatoes score is a "Rotten" 48% — fans had a different take. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has an audience score of 91% positive and, perhaps most importantly, The Gray Man was watched a total of 88.55 million hours in the first three days of its release on Netflix (July 22-24). That not only makes The Gray Man the most popular movie on Netflix right now, but also gives it the second most viewing hours in a movie’s first three days on Netflix in 2022 behind The Adam Project.

Netflix did not give a timeline for when The Gray Man sequel or its spinoff could arrive.

The Gray Man is streaming exclusively on Netflix. However, the movie is still playing in a few select movie theaters, in case you’re not a subscriber and want to check it out. Though it is unclear how long that will remain the case.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.