Seven Bucks Productions is a brand named after Dwayne Johnson's now famous motivational story of being broke down to having only "seven bucks" in his pocket and knowing that would not be the case forever thanks to a mindset of hard work. Now, that busy, global brand is making sure not only Johnson's career is filled with prosperous opportunities but also filling the calendars of many others. It's a group largely comprised of long time friends and family. As Johnson's story has become a pop culture phenomenon, the Seven Bucks brand is trying its hand at a network sitcom in the form of Young Rock. The series highlights the journey with its real characters involved behind-the-scenes, including Seven Bucks' President of Production Hiram Garcia and SVP of Creative Development Brian Gewirtz.
Garcia and Gewirtz serve as executive producers on Young Rock, a wise decision considering the NBC series tells stories based on people who they have known and worked with, personally (and may eventually go on to include them). "We're casting people we know," Garcia tells ComicBook.com, referencing larger than life figures like wrestling icons Andre the Giant and Randy Savage but also people who those close to the story know well. This includes The Rock's own mother Ata Johnson. "Imagine when you're sitting there and you're telling Ata, 'Hey look, these are some of the actresses who we think represent you.' It's really cool because you're honoring them, and you're also casting people that are so beloved, like iconic figures that we're fans of, that we grew up watching and you just want to do them justice."
Gewirtz had a long-running tenure as the head writer for WWE, crafting many of the storylines which Johnson had been directly involved with during his WWE Superstar days. "[Young Rock] appealed to us so much because we're all such huge fans of being able to see [Junkyard Dog] and Andre and the Wild Samoans and Rocky and Sheik all sitting around playing cards and talking shop and everything," he says. Young Rock provided that lens in its premiere episode, establishing the youngest age we will follow the People's Champ, which is one of three timelines the series will follow.
"To tell this story, people who have been involved in it are being called upon as executive producers of the series, helping to capture the moments with honest and fun accuracy," Garcia notes. While the sitcom endeavor is brand new, the man is no stranger to television. Garcia and Seven Bucks previously had hits with HBO's Ballers and NBC's Titan Games competition show. "The truth is if it's on the slate it's something that, like I was saying, there's a personal connection at least to somebody on the development team."
The personal element of the projects, ranging from Jumanji movies to this new Young Rock series, seems to help inform the final product in a way which only having people deeply and organically ingrained in the source material can. "We've been thrilled with the reaction," Gewirtz says of Young Rock. He knows a thing or two about audiences being vocal. "It's really so important that fans, especially that some fans react the way they have because I know we get a lot of wrestling fans and they're not shy to let you know what they think of something. You go online during any SmackDown, any WWE [event], any wrestling thing, and they'll be very vocal and passionate."
The sprawling variety of titles which Garcia oversees and Gewirtz develops all have ties to what roots at Seven Bucks. If you haven't caught on by now, those roots are personal connections. "When we first started conceiving [Young Rock], a lot of the brainstorming revolved around Dwayne telling stories of his life to our partners and the show creators, Nahnatchka Khan and Jeff Chang," Gewirtz explains. "The stories were so wild and so buried throughout his life." As a result, the stories are also buried in the lives of the producers and their real stories have intertwined for years.
In the early moments of Young Rock, Johnson is seen in character as himself explaining that he has committed to "the gimmick," which is a wrestling term which essentially dressing for the job you want and become the character. While Garcia is quick to note that he doesn't believe the work ethic and trust within Seven Bucks can be labeled under such a simple term, he will proudly boast about what the network of hardworking and trustworthy people have been able to accomplish with a commitment to a culture.
"I don't wanna say it's a gimmick because we are all very genuine in what we do," Garcia says. "I do believe that at Seven Bucks we come from... we're all fans at heart."
He says this over a Zoom call, in which he's seated before a 1:1 scale replica of the Infinity Gauntlet from Marvel's two biggest Avengers movies and statues of DC's Superman and Darkseid. Fittingly, Garcia will produce DC's Black Adam movie which begins a long-awaited production in Atlanta this April.
"I'm a comic book nerd and fan, so to be able to tell these kinds of stories and superhero stories, it's what you dream of," Garcia says. "We want to leave the audience floating."
The Seven Bucks slate includes titles for streaming platforms like the Netflix bound Red Notice and theatrically headed Jungle Cruise. The prospect of getting back into theaters and helping the business bounce back after 2020's threatrical shut downs is an idea which gets Garcia fired up.
"Life is hard and it's been challenging and if we can provide a little bit of escapism, I think it goes a long way and we need it more than ever, right?" Garcia says. "So that's always been a goal for us. We look for projects that first speak to us that we feel real connection with, we never just put our name on something."
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The future for Seven Bucks aims for more growth. This, of course, is not limited to movies and television. Garcia's sister Dany Garcia and Johnson have already launched new endeavors with Teremana tequila, clothing lines, clean water, energy drinks, and beyond. For Garcia, production is focused on similar growth and expansion. This includes another Jumanji movie, a Hobbs & Shaw sequel, a new Big Trouble in Little China film, and more.
"We have big ambitions," Garcia says. "We continue to have big plans and more announcements to make and I hope that you're going to be as excited about them as you always are."
Additional reporting by Connor Casey.