This past weekend, one of the most important and breakthrough-caliber events happened in the personal history of The Rock, even bigger than when he got into filmmaking and took the stage name “Dwayne Johnson” (I cannot verify this theory, just trust me though). The Rock’s disaster movie San Andreas was released, and it did something that no film that The Rock lead had done before – it made the box office explode to the tune of $53 million.
As of this writing I have not seen San Andreas, but I want to clarify that I do plan on seeing it at least 5 times in theaters then another 15 on DVD. This writing will not discuss the quality of the film (though it’s probably a masterpiece, let’s be real), because that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. The most important thing is the key moment this represents in The Rock’s career. I’ve written before about the enigma that has befuddled The Rock’s action career, and the quick explanation is that when The Rock is part of an ensemble, especially in a franchise, he will deliver your film lots of box office intake. However, when he is the lead in a film, you only get disappointing to middling box office intake.
The last time a film that The Rock led confidently bested it’s budget domestically was all the way back in 2002 with The Scorpion King, when it grossed $91 million domestically against a $60 million budget. Also the second highest domestic opening for a film led by The Rock? The Scorpion King again, with a $36 million weekend. That’s a whole 13 years between solo success. In that time though, The Rock’s muscles and his box office power only grew as he helped economically rejuvenate the G.I. Joe and Journey to the Center of the Earth films, in addition to adding a big boost of creative and monetary value to The Fast and the Furious franchise. Sidenote: even if San Andreas had bombed, The Rock would have still been fantastic sitting on the record-breaking box office achievements of Furious 7 earlier this year. 2015 was already a great year to be The Rock, but now it is the best year for him.
Collider reports that the film had a reported budget of $110 million, and with marketing costs will end up costing around $140 million. In addition to the great opening weekend of $53 million, the film ended up taking in an additional $60 million in foreign markets, so it puts the totals at a happy and healthy $113 million. Even better? It’s still expanding worldwide, with expansions in key box office demographic places like China and South Korea. Basically, we have a indisputable box office hit for The Rock, and it’s heading into the coming weeks with more dollar signs on the horizon. The Rock is no longer just “ensemble money-machine The Rock”, he has evolved into “full-blown unstoppable movie superstar The Rock”.
We all thought we were in the prime of The Rock’s career, but it turns out it is just getting started. Prepare for 10 seasons of The Rock’s upcoming HBO series Ballers. Get your midnight tickets for 3-6 spinoff films of his The Fast and the Furious character Agent Hobbs. Plan on his Shazam! film to be the highest grossing comic book movie of all time (and he’s not even the main character). Bet on The Rock for the next decade. In the trailer for the film, Paul Giamatti’s character states, “…even though this is happening here in California, you will feel it on the east coast.” A similar statement can be made about The Rock. Even though The Rock’s dominance is happening now, you will feel it for years.