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As ‘Black Adam’ Tops Box Office, Producer Hiram Garcia Talks Sequel, Superman And Expanding Into The DC Universe

The action-packed Black Adam superhero film, starring Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson as the titular character soared to number one in its opening weekend and currently remains in the lead at the box office. But bringing the DC character to the big screen was no easy feat.

Black Adam was brought to life by Seven Bucks Productions, co-founded by Johnson and his ex-wife Dany Garcia, and overseen by his brother-in-law and friend, Hiram Garcia, the company’s president of production. For the three avid comic book fans, it was a decades-long dream project that finally came to fruition.

Hiram Garcia has been a producer on some of Seven Bucks’ tent-pole movies, including DC League of Super-Pets, Red Notice, Jungle Cruise, Jumanji: The Next Level, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Black Adam and an upcoming original holiday-themed movie, all starring Johnson. Garcia is also executive producer of the NBC sitcom Young Rock.

Thrilled with the film’s success, Garcia talks about the challenges in making Black Adam, the Superman cameo, the possibility of Seven Bucks expanding into the DC Universe, creating storylines that resonate with audiences around the world and what’s next for the company.

What attracted you to bring black Adam to the big screen?

As a kind of a comic book nerd growing up, a fan of movies, you dream of the opportunity to tell a superhero story, or an anti-hero story in our case….You dream of it and once we got into the film business, and working with Dwayne, who’s a brother to me, and obviously with Dany, we always knew that Dwayne is a walking superhero. I mean you look at the guy. He’s made to be a comic book character.

When we started to feel the traction of what was happening in the industry and that there was a real opportunity to make these kinds of films, it’s like, hey you know what would be cool? If we brought Black Adam to life….We tried to carve a path for ourselves in the industry by earning respect and a reputation of being able to tell stories and have success with the fans.

What starts as a whisper becomes a 15-year journey to bring a character and an anti-hero to the big screen that we felt had never been seen before…an anti-hero to have the backstory he had, a character that’s so rooted in family as basically the catalyst for what makes him kind of do the things he does.

You said 15 years. Is that how long it took since you conceptualized it and went after this project?

Fifteen years. When you really visualize for 15 years, always returning to one idea and trying to push it a little bit further, working to make it happen and what can we do to set ourselves up to win… using all the experiences we’ve had from our other projects to apply it towards Black Adam …how can we make a film in a way that hadn’t been done before? It’s been a very long journey but everything happens for a reason and we feel like this was the right time to introduce Black Adam into the world.

What were the biggest challenges in making the film?

So many challenges! It is very hard to make a movie. But to make a movie at this size with a character that isn’t as well known and to get the studio behind making an anti-hero who takes a lot of lives in the way he dishes out justice, it’s challenging – and to get the story right, the version of the story we wanted to put into it and have the ability to put the characters we wanted. We really wanted to introduce the JSA [Justice Society of America] in a big way. We wanted to introduce Hawkman and Dr. Fate Cyclone and Atom Smasher.

We wanted to make the world feel bigger by including some cameos from other characters in the DC universe. We have a very big cameo at the end of the movie, which was always a priority for us. That was a lot of work and it took a lot of battling and fighting and a force of going forward and saying we weren’t going to take no for an answer. We really wanted to bring this dream to the big screen. And for us, it was a family dream.

What’s your reaction to black Adam topping the box office in its first weekend?

That’s a dream come true….I think it is the most gratifying part of the process to put so much heart and soul into a project, really want to deliver a movie for the fans, to see our audience score and to hear them talking about it. We want to tell big stories. We want to make people feel better.

When you feel in sync with your audience that you’re working so hard for and feeling their joy and enthusiasm for the project you made, it just it’s the best feeling in the world. It’s something that we really have been celebrating at Seven Bucks.

Talk about that surprise Superman cameo at the end credits. What does this mean?

Well it means that – first off – that the Henry Cavill Superman storyline is being continued now in the DCU and that’s very important to us. In establishing Black Adam, we viewed as we were going to introduce the most powerful force on the planet. We feel like you can’t properly set that up without making sure that the most powerful force in the universe, in Superman, is present.

Black Adam has so many ties to so many characters. He originated as a villain to Shazam and we have great ambitions for how we plan for those guys to eventually cross paths. But Henry as Superman is the superman of our generation and is kind of like the godfather of the DCU. When you introduce a character like Black Adam and you really want to establish him in the world, the acknowledgement by the most powerful force in the universe in Superman feels like the kind of moment that helps really establish Black Adam in the world.

In our hopes, we’re able to show that these two characters now exist in the same world. It’s not about creating a movie where they’re just fighting. That’s low hanging fruit. What we would love to do is hopefully be able to tell a story where these guys exist in the same universe, who are probably going to see eye to eye sometimes, probably not. They might clash. They might work together, who knows? But we want to establish them in the same world and then see where we can go as we tell some great stories within the universe.

Is Seven Bucks Productions going to expand its superhero universe?

That’s our hope. With the great reception we got from Black Adam, it’s one step closer to us being able to start to unfold the big ambitions we have for the DC Universe: to be able to start to establish a space within the DC Universe and start to roll out some storylines is really what we’re excited about.

There’s a ton of amazing characters we want to be able to get into. In Black Adam, we’ve introduced several new heroes. Just the introduction of the JSA alone is in essence a doorway to so many other characters that have been a part of the JSA. We love long-form storytelling. We want to be able to really take our time and start to establish a lot of characters that fans can fall in love with and really build equity with so that we can start to do some really exciting storylines that merge all these worlds together.

Our hope is that as we continue to grow, you’re going to start to hear some more announcements coming from our side about what else we want to do in this world.

Any plans yet on a Black Adam sequel?

As good producers, we always have story lines ready to go and there are lots of conversations happening. I do think that you’ll start to hear some stuff about it, but it’s all in the works. We want to settle in, make sure the fans are happy, things are being received the way we want them to, and in that, you’ll start to hear some noise coming from our camp.

How do you and Dwayne determine what projects you both want to work on?

I met DJ when I was probably 14-15. And him, myself and Dany always have just had a great relationship and we always had a real synergy between the three of us. We always had similar work ethics, similar ambitions. We always wanted to do really big things and we loved telling stories.

We love to make projects that ultimately make people feel better….We want to be able to give an hour and a half to two hours of escapism from whatever stresses are going on in your life…and leave feeling a bit better than you did going in, that’s always our goal. That’s one of the main things we look for when we’re looking for projects.

We always like to look for stuff that’s high concept, things that feel like they’ll cut through the noise. There’s so many great things made out there. What can we do that stands out a bit? But also telling stories that are global and cross all boundaries and divides that are universal that people can really embrace and also represent the world.

When you look at Black Adam, at the JSA, it’s an awesome cast. It’s a very diverse cast. I think it’s representative of the world we live in. It’s the world as we see it. Dwayne is half Samoan, half African-American. Me and Dany are the children of Cuban immigrants. So we love representing the world in our characters in a really fun way and being able to tell those stories.

The key is making sure we’re telling stories that are going to make people feel better. You’re never going to really see a Seven Bucks film that ends on a downer. Those films are great and we appreciate a tear-jerker but if you come to Seven Bucks a film we want you to feel good and we want you to feel happy at the end of it. Otherwise, we aren’t doing our job.

What’s next on your slate?

The next thing on our slate is another season of Young Rock. Season three is coming out in November, which we’re really excited about. We’re able to now continue that story with NBC and our great show runners Nahnatchka Khan and Jeff Chiang. And we just started filming our big holiday movie for Amazon that features Dwayne Johnson and Chris Evans. We have a great cast.

We’ve always wanted to make a big Christmas movie and this is the one. This is really fun, Tons of love, tons of emotion, but also just a big fantasy adventure. It fits right in the tone we wanted to do.

We love pouring some goodness back into the world but we love pouring it when it has a bit of aggression to it So you know a lot of people are going to get punched in the face. There’s going to be some explosions but also going to have some good laughs and want to hug someone at the end of it. So we’re really excited about that.


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