Is Dwayne Johnson the new Arnold Schwarzenegger
Skyscraper is the new movie with Dwayne Johnson. Unlike the Incredibles 2, which is already the highest-grossing animated film in the United States and which trades on the massive appeal of the first movie, Skyscraper is a disaster film that sells because of the star of the movie and no much else.
And this used to be standard practice in Hollywood. The films were made for the actors such as Mary Pickford, Doris Day and more recent names such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johnny Depp. Not every single project with these names were blockbusters, but the famous actors drew a lot of attention. This era is now over, but there is still one man who can open a movie, and his name is Dwayne Johnson also known as The Rock.
When we look at the numbers, we see that Vin Diesel, Johnson’s rival, managed to gross about $1.6 billion for his movies Fast and Furious 8 and xXx: Return of Xander Cage. However, there is one man who grossed more for 2017, and you can guess his name. The movie called Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was an eponymous hit, and it earned a massive $961 million, something not many people expected. That is more money than films such as Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman and the latest Pirates of the Caribbean. The Rock also appeared in Fast 8, meaning that the films with him grossed over $2 billion in 2017.
And Jumanji tells us a different story than any other film that got released. It earned that much money mostly on the charisma of the star. Yes, you could consider this movie to be a sequel to the original with late Robin Williams, which aired in the mid-1990s, but the original one was not why people went to the theaters to watch the new family-friendly flick. Most of the people went to see Johnson, who was co-starred by Karen Gillan, Jack Black, and Kevin Hart. And when looking at the films in the top 20 list, you will not be able to find one which was sold by its star. For instance, people didn’t go to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi because of the actors.
Johnson keeps working on successful projects that are profitable thanks to his charm. Moreover, he is disciplined in his choices, and he knows how to win the Asian market, something other actors and movie makers often forget. Is Dwayne the last big movie star standing?
Throughout the history of Hollywood, we had a lot of big stars, and it all started with Florence Lawrence who was the first actor named on a poster in 1910 at the very inception of the movie industry in the USA. But there were some other stars as well such as John Wayne or Cary Grant.
From time to time, this system, which favored a star and adjusted everything else to fit the needs of a single person was brutal, it lacked in flexibility, but it worked. We can say that the height of the star system was in the 1930s and 1940s, which is considered to be a golden age of Hollywood. However, this star-based system could not be sustained, and the demise came from two different directions. Actors such as Olivia de Havilland, Bette Davis, and Shirley MacLaine took action against their employees and modified the one-sided contracts. Afterward, Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, two actors that were trained in method schools were vocal against this artificial system, and they resisted the pressure to anglicize their names. Thanks to them, followers such as Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel didn’t want to do it as well, so they remained Italian and Jewish, respectively.
Despite these moves, it was hard to reduce the impact of a movie star. Pacino and Streisand remain untouchable, whereas Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone made themselves identifiable on purpose, but that was just how the Reagan era worked. These two actors made films with the focus on action and not on dialogue, and marketing these movies overseas, especially in Asia, was much easier.
And somewhere between these lines is where The Rock fits. However, Johnson is genuinely a nice fellow, and he is aware that he is doing his job. “Oh, I have occasionally heard that,” he said almost bashfully. “My reputation does precede me. I always say you have to be grateful. We are in an industry that is, all things considered, doing pretty well. Hey, you have to be grateful for that.”
Dwayne Johnson was born in 1972 as the son of wrestler Rocky Johnson, and he moved to the United States from New Zealand where he spent some time with his mother’s family. Johnson admitted that he had problems with his father. However, that didn’t stop him from graduating from the University of Miami in criminology, but at the time, Dwayne was trying to make it to the NFL.
Considering that all of it fell apart, Johnson stepped into professional wrestling, following in his father’s footsteps. However, the fans hated him at first, but everything changed when he adopted The Rock nickname. It didn’t take long for this man to slide in the movie industry and he appeared in The Scorpion King in 2002. Dwayne didn’t choose his roles at first, and he played in all kinds of films, some of which were really bad, but he managed to make a name and build a reputation in Hollywood.
What Johnson did fantastically was distancing himself from the previous career. He was a fantastic wrestler, and he became famous and loved nation-wide. It was hard for him to abandon everything and start working in a different industry.
During the filming o Fast and Furious 8, Johnson posted a comment, criticizing stars who didn’t “conduct themselves as stand-up men and true professionals.” Interestingly enough, he and Vin Diesel didn’t appear together in a single scene. “Vin and I had a few discussions, including an important face-to-face in my trailer,” he told Rolling Stone recently. “And what I came to realize is that we have a fundamental difference in philosophies on how we approach moviemaking and collaborating.”
Trump and The Rock
The Rock has teased that he would run for president in 2020, but recently, he has confirmed that we will not see that happening. However, he disagrees with Donald Trump and some of his decisions so Johnson said that if he were in the position of the NFL players who protested through the last season, he “would either have knelt or raised my fist in solidarity.”
He told Rolling Stone in a recent interview that he would be more vocal about who he supports in 2020. And even though in the United States everyone can run for president, Johnson believes that “not everybody should run.” Then he added: “Look, I love politics, but I am not passionate about pursuing politics. I will leave that to others who are more passionate. I will do what I am passionate about, which is entertaining.”
And Dwayne should remain in the entertaining industry. I am afraid that he would lose his charm if he sets foot into politics. Although a lot of people could relate to him, many would probably not agree with his decisions and views. “For the most part, his success is because he’s a really charming, friendly, authentic guy but that persona resonates with people because we can all claim him,” says Myra Washington, associate professor at the University of New Mexico. “Everyone is like: ‘The Rock is just like us’; or ‘He’s like my cousin’ or whatever. That just increases the buy-in.”