Dwayne Johnson Starring in ‘The Smashing Machine’

Dwayne Johnson in 'Superpowered: The DC Story.'

Dwayne Johnson in ‘Superpowered: The DC Story.’ Photograph by Courtesy of Max/Warner Bros.

Preview:

  • Dwayne Johnson has been developing a movie about MMA fighter Mark Kerr.
  • ‘Uncut Gems’ Benny Safdie will direct.
  • It promises to be more straightforwardly dramatic than some of The Rock’s recent franchise entries.

Dwayne Johnson is not the first name that springs to mind when you think “weighty A24 drama.” He’s more the big, action-packed franchise blockbuster star of series such as ‘The Fast & the Furious’ or the standalone likes of ‘Rampage’ and ‘Skyscraper’.

So to learn he’s set to star in a new film from Benny Safdie, more usually associated with the lower-key (but incredibly tense) likes of ‘Uncut Gems’ for indie arthouse studio A24 might be something of a surprise. But should it be?

Johnson has, after all, made smaller, more dramatic movies in the past such as ‘Southland Tales’ and ‘Pain & Gain’ (if a movie directed by Michael Bay can ever truly be described as “small”).

And from the sounds of this latest, ‘The Smashing Machine’ as reported by Deadline, it’s something of a passion project for the star, who will lead the film as real-life fighter Mark Kerr.

Related Article: Dwayne Johnson Opens up About ‘Black Adam’s Box Office and Why it Stalled at DC

Who is Mark Kerr?

Kerr is a former wrestler and mixed martial artist. During his MMA career he was a two-time UFC Heavyweight Tournament Champion, World Vale Tudo Championship tournament winner, a Pride FC Heavyweight Champion, 1992 NCAA National Wrestling Champion, 1994 National Freestyle Champion and four-time ADCC World Submission Champion.

In 2003, Kerr was the subject of an HBO documentary ‘The Smashing Machine’, which detailed his MMA career fighting in Vale Tudo, the UFC and Pride.

The Smashing Machine
R1 hr 33 minJan 1st, 2002

“The Smashing Machine”, which follows mixed martial arts competitor Mark Kerr’s career from late ’99 until the Pride Grand Prix 2000 tournament in Japan, is a stunning… Read the Plot

‘The Smashing Machine’: The Story So Far

Johnson has been overseeing this one as a producer since he first bought rights to Kerr’s story in 2019 and set it up via his Seven Bucks Productions company. He got in touch with Safdie, who wrote the script and came aboard to direct.

The movie will follow Kerr’s struggle with addiction, winning, love and friendship in the year 2000.

It marks the first solo project for Safdie, who has largely directed movies with his brother Josh such as 2017’s ‘Good Time’ (which starred Robert Pattinson) and the aforementioned ‘Uncut Gems’ (starring Adam Sandler), among A24’s highest-grossing movies to date.

A24 on the new film

Benny Safdie is Edward Teller in 'Oppenheimer,' written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan.

Benny Safdie is Edward Teller in ‘Oppenheimer,’ written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan.

A24’s Noah Sacco appears excited by the prospect of the team-up.

Here’s what he said in a statement:

“Dwayne and Benny are singular talents, and their shared vision for Mark’s inspiring story is electrifying. We are deeply honored to have their trust as collaborators in bringing this incredibly special project to life.”

With the movie not yet shot, it naturally has no release date yet.

Dwayne Johnson arrives on the red carpet of the 95th Oscars® at the Dolby® Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on Sunday, March 12, 2023.

Dwayne Johnson arrives on the red carpet of the 95th Oscars® at the Dolby® Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on Sunday, March 12, 2023.

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