Dwayne Johnson drew a decent crowd to his arcade game adaptation, but it should have been bigger.
You’ve got The Rock. You’ve got a branded property banking on ’80s nostalgia. And you’ve got giant monsters fighting each other and the destruction of a major city. How can you go wrong? Well, you could do better than the opening of Rampage, which drew in about 3.8 million people over the weekend. That’s somewhat consistent for Dwayne Johnson but still slightly below expectations.
Given his seemingly indiscriminate choice of projects, Johnson’s varied career brings varied box office success. His Rotten Tomatoes scores are all over the place, too, but his CinemaScores are not. His fans are regularly interested in what he’s cooking, and they tend to be satisfied with what he serves up. With Rampage, the polled audience gave him another ‘A-‘ grade, same as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Central Intelligence, and San Andreas.
Those three movies brought in respective crowds of 3.9 million, 4.1 million, and 6.3 million. All of them had legs to some degree. Whether or not it’s Johnson’s doing, he stars in a lot of movies that do well over time. Jumanji especially. The video game movie that isn’t a video game movie is a total phenomenon, and there’s no way his new true video game adaptation will follow suit despite the similar debut.
Part of the reason is that Avengers: Infinity War is around the corner. Of course, Jumanji held its own and more opposite Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and maybe the running time and possible dark turns of the latest Marvel movie will correspondingly cause families to spillover into another Johnson adventure. But Rampage is hardly the fun for all ages romp that Jumanji is. The former is itself more grim and can be pretty crude.
Johnson’s career as a movie star has generally been on an upswing. He did start out drawing 6.2 million for his first starring vehicle, the Mummy spin-off The Scorpion King, but afterward his opening weekend attendance was mostly in the 2-3 million range before dropping significantly in 2010, the year before he joined the Fast and the Furious movies. That franchise still bring him his biggest crowds.
He has taken dives since then, usually if the movie is too serious (Snitch) or R-rated (Baywatch). The failure of the latter could have been a bad sign for Rampage considering it’s also a Johnson movie teeming in nostalgia for a few decades back. But the added combination of a PG-13 rating, director Brad Peyton, and a city being leveled aligned Rampage more with San Andreas.
So why didn’t Rampage attract the same size crowd, if not even greater numbers than the earthquake disaster picture? In addition to having that equivalent aforementioned combination, Rampage also almost exactly matched the reviews of San Andreas (both are 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, 45 to 43 respectively on Metacritic). The main difference between them is that Rampage also has giant monsters.
Which should have been a bonus, right? In the last 10 years, we’ve seen Cloverfield, Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and Kong: Skull Island bring in opening-weekend attendance of 5.6 million, 4.8 million, 11.2 million, and 6.9 million, respectively. And the relevant Jurassic World did 25.3 million people in its first three days. Most of them have greater name recognition than Rampage, yet even then the more familiar stuff is dwindling. The sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising drew in only 3.1 million its opening weekend last month.
Fortunately for Rampage, Johnson and big spectacle continues to draw huge audiences overseas. This movie is especially big in China, and worldwide it has already topped its budget. Ultimately, it should do better than Pacific Rim: Uprising but no matter what it’s going to have a similar 25/75 split as far as its domestic/international box office goes. Johnson’s track record is unpredictable enough, though, that it’s hard to tell if his upcoming Skyscraper (due 7/13) will be the bigger hit and/or if Rampage at least maintains steady box office attendance.
One thing is certain, Johnson will never have the kind of legs that John Krasinski has with A Quiet Place. The movie drew in another 3.6 million people over the weekend, a drop of only 35% from last weekend’s surprising numbers. And that’s not much lower than Rampage‘s crowd. Word of mouth is working for the original sci-fi horror release, and as Forbes points out it had one of the best second weekends ever for a scary title. And even better for one not based on anything.
As for other new releases, the Blumhouse horror movie Truth or Dare couldn’t draw up enough of a crowd to prove the genre in general is doing better than ever. Its debut crowd of 2.1 million is low for the production company. Beirut arrived in just barely wide release to the tune of just 180,000 people, indicating Jon Hamm is still far from being ready for big screen stardom. But neither is the titular hero of Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, which earned an ‘A’ from CinemaScore but only sold 38,000 tickets.
Meanwhile, speaking of animated dogs, Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs finally expanded to wide release, pulling in 545,000 people. That’s actually not much more than the 497,000 tickets the movie sold last weekend in far fewer locations. The well-received stop-motion feature should wind up doing about the same business overall as Anderson’s previous animated effort, The Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Here is the weekend’s top 20 titles by tickets sold with new titles in bold and totals in parentheses.
1. Rampage – 3.8M (3.8M)
2. A Quiet Place – 3.6M (10.9M)
3. Truth or Dare – 2.1M (2.1M)
4. Ready Player One – 1.2M (12.5M)
5. Blockers – 1.1M (4M)
6. Black Panther – 0.6M (73.4M)
7. Isle of Dogs – 0.5M (2M)
8. I Can Only Imagine – 0.42M (8.2M)
9. Tyler Perry’s Acrimony – 0.4M (4.1M)
10. Chappquiddick – 0.3M (1.2M)
11. The Miracle Season – 0.233M (0.8M)
12. Sherlock Gnomes – 0.229M (4M)
13. Beirut – 0.18M (0.2M)
14. Pacific Rim: Uprising – 0.15M (6.3M)
15. A Wrinkle in Time – 0.13M (10.1M)
16. Love, Simon – 0.11M (4.3M)
17. Paul, Apostle of Christ – 0.06M (1.8M)
18. The Death of Stalin – 0.052M (0.7M)
19. Tomb Raider – 0.051 (6.1M)
20. Peter Rabbit – 0.4M (12.4M)
All box office data via Box Office Mojo.