Zac Efron is suiting up in red bathing trunks and hitting the beach.
Efron is in negotiations to star opposite Dwayne Johnson in Paramount’s Baywatch, the big-screen take on the 1990s television series about California lifeguards.
After years of development, the project seems to finally be ramping up and in recent weeks it added Seth Gordon as director. Efron’s casting sets the movie up for a production start in early 2016, likely in February.
The story centers on a by-the-book and very serious lifeguard (Johnson) who is forced to team up with a young rule-flouting hothead (Efron) in order to save their beach from environmental destruction at the hands of an oil tycoon. Damian Shannon and Mark Swift wrote the most recent draft.
Beau Flynn, collaborating with Johnson for the fourth time, and Ivan Reitman are producing. Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions will also produce in some capacity.
The Baywatch casting is a cresting of a wave of sorts for the actor who, due to his surprising and successful turn opposite Seth Rogen in Neighbors, caused both audiences and industry execs to see him in a new light, beyond the teen heartthrob shadow that followed him. It also has made him a wanted man, who’s is now working across several studios and practically back to back.
But it’s in comedies that he’s finding real success due to the rare combo of looks and laughs.
Efron just wrapped production on Fox and Chernin Entertainment’s comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates along with Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza. That comes on the heels of his work with Robert De Niro for Lionsgate’s road trip comedy Dirty Grandpa. And at the end of August, Efron will reunite with Rogen and Rose Byrne for Neighbors 2, which shoots in Atlanta. All three movies will be released in 2016.
Also at the end of August Efron has We Are Your Friends, a DJ drama being released by Warner Bros.
Baywatch could continue the comedic swell but take it to the next level by putting him on a more global level. With the Fast & Furious movies and this summer’s San Andreas, Johnson is popular the world over. The original Baywatch, meanwhile, was a 1990s television syndicated hit, watched in 148 countries.
If the right balance is struck, between self-aware humor and telling an actual story with action elements (21 Jump Street is a tonal touchstone for the project, say insiders), a franchise could be born for the players involved when the movie is released in 2017.
Efron is repped by CAA, Alchemy Entertainment and Felker Toczek.