×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Don’t Blame Dwayne Johnson Fatigue for ‘Skyscraper’s’ Underwhelming Debut

Dwayne Johnson’s “Skyscraper” collapsed at the domestic box office with a $25 million launch last weekend.

Although analysts have been quick to label Rawson Marshall Thurber’s action adventure a flop in North America, that might not matter, considering the film was virtually engineered for its international appeal. More than just banking on the Rock’s massive overseas following, the film was set in Hong Kong featured a number of Asian actors. All things considered, it’s impossible to assess the damage until “Skyscraper” opens in China this weekend.

“Skyscraper” generated $41 million internationally when it opened in 57 markets. Still, the $125 million production budget, plus tens of millions spent marketing and distributing the picture, could make Universal and Dalian Wanda-owned Legendary sweat. “Skyscraper” needs to deliver solid numbers abroad to turn a profit.

The film’s tepid start immediately sparked concern of the Rock film fatigue. The actor has been in five big-screen releases in the past 14 months. “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “Moana,” and “The Fate of the Furious” were all massive hits. “Baywatch” was something of an embarrassment, while his most recent title, “Rampage,” didn’t seem to excite moviegoers, either.

Does Johnson’s recent misses signal that moviegoers are overexposed to one of Hollywood’s biggest names? Probably not.

There are a few reasons “Skyscraper” underperformed, but overexposure to the Rock is likely not one of them. Tired storyline and bleak reviews? Add those to the list instead.

“Skyscraper” didn’t have the worst response for a Johnson film (“Baywatch” tanked with an 18% on Rotten Tomatoes), though it has been battling a mixed critical consensus. The problem isn’t Johnson’s appeal, or even his performance. The main concern is the derivative plot.

The studio touted “Skyscraper” as an homage to iconic disaster dramas like “Die Hard” and “The Towering Inferno.” Perhaps they leaned into nostalgia a little too much. Movie tickets are expensive, and even with MoviePass, audiences aren’t going to shell out cash for a flick that doesn’t offer anything new.

“Everything in ‘Skyscraper,’ we have seen before,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst at Exhibitor Relations. “To go back and just do ‘Die Hard,’ but the building is bigger is not enough — even with the biggest star in the world.”

“Skyscraper” was among the few summer releases not part of a preexisting franchise. It didn’t have giant monsters or starry sidekicks to back it up. Johnson was the only draw. Some say that’s the only reason why the film didn’t open lower than it already did.

“I really don’t think it’s fatigue. He was still able to debut with $25 million,” Bock said. “That speaks [to his] star power, not against it, because the movie is so bad.”

Fatigue or not, Johnson isn’t leaving the multiplexes anytime soon. He’s got a number of films, including “Jungle Cruise,” “Fast and Furious” spinoff “Hobbs and Shaw,” “Red Notice,” and “Jumanji 2” in the pipeline. Let’s just hope those are stories worth telling.

More Film

  • The Wolf Hour

    Shanghai Film Review: 'The Wolf Hour'

    Run a finger along any of the surfaces in Alistair Banks Griffin’s sophomore feature “The Wolf Hour,” and it will come up slicked with sweat, grime and the residual soot of the city. It is the summer of 1977,  and it’s hotter than hell. June Leigh (Naomi Watts) perches on the window sill of the [...]

  • The Christmas Gift

    'The Christmas Gift,' 'Guaxuma,' 'King Wah' Win Top Awards at Palm Springs ShortFest

    The Palm Springs International ShortFest wrapped Sunday with top prizes going to “The Christmas Gift,” directed by Bogdan Muresanu, for best of the festival, Nara Normande’s “Guaxuma” for best international short and Horatio Baltz’s “King Wah (I Think I Love You)” for best North American short. The festival is the largest shorts-focused event in North [...]

  • Vortex

    Shanghai Film Review: 'Vortex'

    Official statistics imply that violent crime is close to an all-time low across China today, but you would hardly guess as much from the glut of commercial-leaning crime and gangster movies that the Middle Kingdom is producing and, as often as not, given the accessibility of the genre and the historical pedigree of Asian action [...]

  • Box Office: Toy Story 4 Opens

    Box Office: 'Toy Story 4' Launches Overseas With $120 Million, 'Aladdin' Clears $800 Million

    Disney’s summer box office slate continues to dominate over other studios as “Toy Story 4” launches overseas with a solid $120 million and “Aladdin” crosses $800 million in ticket sales. Disney and Pixar’s latest “Toy Story” entry led international box office charts when it debuted in 37 foreign territories. It also dwarfed the competition in [...]

  • Toy Story 4 Box Office: Pixar

    Box Office: 'Toy Story 4' Dominates With $118 Million Debut

    Disney’s domination over the box office only seemed to strengthen this weekend as “Toy Story 4” easily topped box office charts. The fourth entry in Pixar’s animated series collected $118 million in ticket sales when it debuted in 4,575 North American theaters. While that haul is significantly below expectations – early estimates initially anticipated a [...]

  • Shanghai international Film Festival closing ceremony

    Iran's 'Castle of Dreams' Sweeps Shanghai Golden Goblet Award Ceremony

    China’s top film festival showered its highest three honors on the Iranian film “Castle of Dreams,” hours after U.S. President Donald Trump said his administration would on Monday impose “major additional sanctions” on Tehran. “Castle of Dreams,” a drama about family, separation and keeping one’s promises collected a trio of prizes on Sunday night at [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content