Ruben Fleischer, director of the celebrated 2009 horror-comedy Zombieland, has a lot on his plate, notably Sony Pictures Spider-Man spinoff Venom, with Tom Hardy in the title role as the Wall-Crawler’s iconic symbiotic-suit-boosted nemesis. Yet, as that production currently faces delays, it appears that Fleischer’s filling the vacancy with a Universal comedy, brandishing the pairing of John Cena and Kumail Nanjiani.
Universal has won a bidding war for a yet-to-be-titled buddy cop comedy movie by Ruben Fleischer and producers David Barnad and Murray Miller, reports Deadline. While plot details are not yet available, the clear attraction of the film will be its headlining duo, with WWE superstar and surging mainstream screen presence John Cena, joined by a presumably folly-fulfilling foil in Silicon Valley actor Kumail Nanjiani.
Cena, the longtime franchise flag-bearer of the WWE wrestling monopoly, has been making his movie presence more frequently felt, notably with his role in the 2015 Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck, previously fielding sporadic starring runs in (WWE-produced) actioners in 2009’s 12 Rounds and 2006’s The Marine. However, he recently finished his current wrestling run, freeing him to tackle more acting roles. Indeed, he’s booked to appear opposite Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell in November’s Daddy’s Home 2, 2018 comedy The Pact, and, most notably, will serve as the resident alpha male hero in the 2018 Transformers spinoff, Bumblebee.
Nanjiani has also seen his star surge, thanks to his run on the acclaimed HBO comedy Silicon Valley, coming off TV runs on Portlandia, The Grinder, Community and Newsreaders. He notably co-starred, opposite Zoe Kazan, in the 2017 rom-com The Big Sick, along with film roles in Fist Fight, The Late Bloomer, Brother Nature, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Central Intelligence, which was a buddy comedy movie vehicle for Cena’s fellow WWE-launched film superstar Dwayne Johnson.
Ruben Fleischer will serve as director and producer for the untitled film, working off a script by Murray Miller (who will also produce), whose writing CV mostly resides on television with recent HBO mockumentaries Tour de Pharmacy and 7 Days in Hell, episodes of Girls, American Dad! and King of the Hill. Fleischer, besides his (sequel-looming) claim-to-fame hit Zombieland, directed the 2013, 1940s-set, ensemble crime drama Gangster Squad, as well as television work on episodes of Superstore and Santa Clarita Diet. He will also be joined by producer David Barnad, his partner in the Universal TV-backed production company The District.
While John Cena’s WWE catchphrase states, “You can’t see me,” it appears that the buddy cop comedy that will pair the pro wrestler with Kumail Nanjiani can also make that claim, since neither its title nor release date has been projected.
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