Self-proclaimed "box office viagra" will be put to the test in 2018: can the Rock's Rampage and Skyscraper have equal success as 2017's Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle? It’s no question that Dwayne Johnson is one of our generation’s biggest superstars. He can open a film that would otherwise bomb and remains one of the most personable celebrities on social media. It seems like everything the Rock touches turns to gold, best seen with Jumanji 2.
Though a madly entertaining and funny film, it was still a surprise how well the Jumanji sequel performed at the box office. Bringing in a massive worldwide gross of over $900 million worldwide, it was the fifth-highest-performing movie of 2017 (and was still in cinemas when it hit home video). The question remains, however, how much was actually The Rocks. Jumanji's box office success was bolstered by nostalgia for both the original film and 1990s gaming, as well as a Christmas release that gave it serious legs into 2018. And, of course, it no doubt benefitted from the mixed reception to Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
We won't have to wait long to find out. Summer 2018 brings with it two Rock-led movies: Rampage and Skyscraper. Going up against some of the biggest movies in the industry and with no ensemble to fall back on, they well be victory laps, but the pressure is on to show that Johnson really is as heroic as Dr. Smolder Bravestone. Movie stars are widely viewed as a dying breed, and these two films may just be Dwayne Johnson's big test.
Rampage has a lot going for it. There's been a recent resurgence of movies either based on or evoking video games, with films like Tomb Raider, Ready Player One and Jumanji 2, and they finally seem to be achieving box office success. It also fits into the mold of prior successes; it's a very "Rock movie". That second quality is the main argument point for Skyscraper, which comes from the director of surprise hit San Andreas.
However, this won't be an easy ride. Rampage comes out mere weeks before Avengers: Infinity War (it even moved release date to give itself an extra week) which severely damages long-term potential (something Jumanji benefitted and may be part of the Rock formula), while Skyscraper has to contest with a July packed with movies of all different appeals - Ant-Man and the Wasp, The First Purge, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Mission Impossible - Fallout.
Whereas Jumanji's success can be chalked up to a multitude of factors, both of these movies do - bar those still obsessed with a 30-year-old video game - hinge on The Rock's star power. And that's in question, not just for him but in general. It can sometimes feel like movie stars are over - just look at Red Sparrow (Jennifer Lawrence) or The Mummy (Tom Cruise) - and even Johnson's felt the burn with the critically-savaged Baywatch (which was a successful prior IP, no less). It's very easy to view Dwayne Johnson as the last of the movie stars, but it's only in 2018 when we'll find out if that's really the case.
- Rampage (2018) release date: Apr 13, 2018
- Skyscraper (2018) release date: Jul 13, 2018