Benny Safdie to Direct Dwayne Johnson in A24 Movie About MMA Legend Mark Kerr

Dwayne Johnson and Benny Safdie
Courtesy | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Benny Safdie has set his solo directorial debut with “The Smashing Machine,” an A24 feature film starring Dwayne Johnson as MMA and UFC champion Mark Kerr.

Per A24, the film marks “The Rock’s move into his most dramatic project and role yet.” The movie’s logline reads: “‘The Smashing Machine’ is a drama based on the story of Mark Kerr, the legendary MMA fighter from the no-holds-barred era of the UFC at the peak of his career. He struggles with addiction, winning, love and friendship in the year 2000.”

Kerr, an American former wrestler and MMA icon, was a two-time UFC Heavyweight Tournament Champion and World Vale Tudo Championship tournament winner. Over the course of his career, he won over two dozen MMA titles. In 2003, Kerr was the subject of an HBO documentary, also titled “The Smashing Machine.”

Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia’s Seven Bucks Productions will produce alongside Safdie’s Out for the Count banner, Eli Bush and David Koplan. Safdie and Johnson have collaborated on “The Smashing Machine” since Johnson first acquired the rights to the project in 2019. A24 joined as producer and financier.

“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,” said A24’s Noah Sacco in a statement.

Safdie, who rose to fame with his brother Josh as the co-director of beloved crime thrillers “Uncut Gems” and “Good Time,” writes and directs “The Smashing Machine,” his first solo project. Safdie currently stars opposite Nathan Fielder in Showtime’s “The Curse,” which the pair co-created, co-directed, co-wrote and co-produced. Safdie has spent more time in front of the camera recently, with meaty roles in Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” and Kelly Fremon Craig’s “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.”

Johnson is represented by WME, Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman and The Lede Company. Safdie is represented by WME, Untitled Entertainment and Narrative.

From Variety US