Dwayne Johnson doesn’t need to rely on his wrestling moniker “The Rock” anymore. The professional wrestler-turned-actor and most likable man alive practically has his own breed of action movies now.
His latest project, Skyscraper, hits US theaters today (July 13). It’s a ridiculous, over-the-top action flick where Johnson is a former FBI agent trying to protect his family from an highly improbable scenario—in this case, they’re trapped in the world’s tallest building as it’s burning down. It’s a familiar role, the Rock as a civil servant and family man. (And a familiar narrative, the core of which is borrowed from Die Hard, which coincidentally turns 30 this weekend.)
The premise doesn’t much matter. It’s an action movie, in which the Rock will defy the laws of physics, and, likely, actual laws, in an attempt to leap across this expanse. People will watch it.
A mere 49% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave Skyscraper positive reviews. Those who did agreed it was good, silly fun because of Johnson’s heroics and undeniable charisma, despite the dialogue’s failure to emphasize his wit as much as other films have done.
Johnson’s movies, even underwhelming ones like Rampage and Baywatch, usually defy the box-office performances of other wide-releases in their genre, based on data from Box Office Mojo. If studios cast Johnson, they know they should see a solid return.
(Let’s take this with a grain of salt, though, as we’re talking about the average of dozens of films versus one or a handful of movies in each genre starring Johnson.)
While some studios lean on sequels, reboots, and adaptations to fill seats, others turn to the Rock. Heck, casting Johnson in a sequel or reboot is almost a blockbuster guarantee. Just look at Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
When Johnson joins an existing film franchise, the movie he stars in usually performs better than the previous one in the franchise, too.
Johnson’s box office star didn’t start to truly soar until 2011, when he joined the Fast and the Furious franchise. And he hit his box-office prime last year, when he starred in three films that collectively earned almost $2.4 billion at the global box office.
Johnson does especially well with international audiences. His 10 highest-grossing films each earned more than half of their box office grosses overseas.
Skyscraper is expected to bring in $32 million during its debut weekend in the US and Canada, Forbes reported. That’d be a modest return compared to the biggest debuts this summer, which came from sequels and franchise films, including The Incredibles 2, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Deadpool 2, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Ocean’s 8. But it’d be the largest opening for a wholly original movie this season, as Forbes noted.