Despite bombing at the domestic box office, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s action comedy Baywatch has crossed the $100 million mark overseas. Released in May, the big-screen adaptation of the syndicated TV hit Baywatch seemed to have a tidal wave of momentum behind it. To begin with it had the built-in audience in the U.S. and abroad that made the series an international success from 1989-2001; and on top of that, the remake of the David Hasselhoff TV phenomenon had the biggest international box office draw with Johnson as its star.
But something unexpected happened when the film version of Baywatch opened domestically during the normally lucrative Memorial Day weekend: despite having the advantage of opening a day early on Thursday it was immediately dead in the water, earning a paltry $18.5 million – a mere shadow of the weekend’s other big opener, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which took in $62.9 million in its opening frame. Six weeks later, domestic ticket sales are still trickling in for Baywatch, which at current stands at $57.4 million, a couple million dollars shy of the film’s production budget of $60 million.
And while there’s no denying Baywatch sunk in the U.S., the overseas appeal of the film is keeping the movie above water. According to Deadline, Baywatch has crossed the $100 million mark in international ticket sales and is primed to finish with $110 million in foreign coffers when it ends its theatrical run. And while the numbers are far less than other domestic bombs like The Mummy ($300 million overseas) and Dead Men Tell No Tales ($544.9 million overseas) are earning, they just may be enough to merit the film a sequel considering the film’s lower production costs in comparison to its tentpole competitors.
Deadline believes part of the reason for the film’s success overseas stems from the TV series monstrous appeal internationally, which at its peak had a weekly audience of 1.1 billion viewers in 142 countries. Another factor is that the film, albeit briefly in two scenes, includes Hasselhoff. Baywatch, after all, made the actor a rock star in Germany, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the movie version has earned $15 million in the country so far (making it the 7th-highest grossing in the country this year). The film is also playing well in nearby Austria, where The Hoff also became a pop culture icon in the wake of the Baywatch series’ popularity.
Whether cinemas in the U.S. and abroad will see a Baywatch 2 is yet to be seen. Of course, the film will have to include Johnson since he’s the new Mitch Buchanan among the gaggle of very, very good-looking beach guards who moonlight as detectives. But most importantly, a sequel must bring Hasselhoff back into the fold, and in a much bigger role (and maybe even Pamela Anderson, who appeared briefly in a thankless cameo). Even though he effectively parodied himself in the film, he was clearly the most entertaining element of Baywatch, showing that a little Hoff goes a long, long way.
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