Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is many things: former professional wrestler, current international movie star, devoted family man, and the owner of impossibly huge biceps. But one aspect of his multifaceted Hollywood persona which often goes unnoticed is his unparalleled branding and marketing acumen.
Johnson is charging $1 million just to promote his own upcoming film, the action comedy Red Notice, on his social media profiles, according to a report in Variety. In total, Johnson will make $22 million for the film—double what Tom Cruise made for the recent remake of The Mummy and more than five times what Michael B. Jordan earned for Creed 2.
That a major Hollywood studio (in this case, Universal) is willing to pay The Rock $1 million to tweet about his own movies is a testament to the power of the star’s enormous social media following. Johnson has 105 million followers on Instagram and 13 million on Twitter, and many of them are deeply engaged. A video he posted to Instagram yesterday (May 8) of himself working out was watched 4 million times. A photo of his 2018 to-do list received over one million likes.
Johnson knows these fans—and potential moviegoers—are valuable to Hollywood marketing departments, and he knows how to leverage them to not only make more money for himself but also to cultivate his personal brand. There is not an actor in Hollywood who is as much of a brand unto him or herself as The Rock. He’s Tom Cruise meets the Kardashians, without any of the baggage. That’s likely why that, despite the paucity of bona fide movie stars, studios still line up to work with The Rock and are happy to send some extra cash his way if he tweets a movie poster to his hundreds of millions of acolytes.
Critics might argue that The Rock should want to promote his own movies and that he’s nickel-and-diming studios for a service that he should be providing anyway. It’s probably true that if a different, less affable actor was reported to be charging per tweet, it wouldn’t go over as well. But if any of us, through years of smart brand-building, had the chance to make money to post a photo to Instagram, wouldn’t we take it? That’s not frivolous—that’s just good business.