1990s TV show Baywatch made bigger stars of Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff, and it was inevitable that Hollywood would attempt to turn the hit show – revolving around (attractive) lifeguards and their beach-guarding responsibilities – into a movie one day. A film adaptation is now closer than ever to becoming a reality, seeing as it has Dwayne Johnson attached to star, a director onboard in the form of Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief), and a projected 2016 production start date.
The Baywatch movie will reportedly put a more mature action/comedy spin on the original property, similar to what happened when the 1980s TV show 21 Jump Street made its jump from television to the big screen. It would now appear that Johnson has found the Jonah Hill to his Channing Tatum, so to speak.
THR is reporting that Zac Efron is in talks to star opposite Johnson in Baywatch; assuming Efron’s deal is finalized (which it should be), that puts the project on course to star filming around February 2016. Efron will reportedly play the “young rule-flouting hothead” opposite Johnson as a more serious and rule-abiding chief lifeguard, who end up having to join forces when an oil tycoon wreaks environmental destruction that threatens their beach.
Onetime High School Musical star Efron has steadily begun to carve out a niche for himself, as a go-to actor for playing comedy roles that require him to riff on his heartthrob looks, as he did in 2014 with That Awkward Moment and Neighbors and will do again in forthcoming comedy films like Dirty Grandpa (opposite Robert De Niro), the sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, and once more in Baywatch. At the same time, Johnson has begun to branch out more into buddy action/comedy genre territory, with the upcoming Central Intelligence , costarring Kevin Hart; as such, an Efron/Johnson team-up on Baywatch reads as a fairy natural progression of their recent career moves.
Johnson previously revealed that the plan for Baywatch is to make a movie that’s “edgy, raunchy and hopefully, funny as hell,” against signaling that this project is emulating 21 Jump Street and its similar irreverent outlook towards its original TV show inspiration. However, while the Jump Street films have earned unexpected critical acclaim in no small part thanks to the creative approach taken by directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, Baywatch reads as being promising more in terms of onscreen talents, rather than the folk working behind the scenes.
Baywatch screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift are successful studio writers, having penned the 2009 Friday the 13th film reboot and landed the job of writing Disney’s live-action Aladdin prequel, Genies. However, similar to Gordon, the Baywatch writers are known for crafting easy to market studio movies, rather than being storytellers lauded for their unique voices or styles. That means Baywatch‘s success or lack thereof will be all the more dependent on it having chemistry between its leads – but again, since the Efron/Johnson pairing reads as promising on paper, that might not be a problem here.
Here’s the classic opening to the 1990’s ‘Baywatch’: