What Pacific Rim 2's Mixed Reaction Means For Boyega
Pacific Rim Uprising cost $150m, and while it's projected to hit the top spot this weekend in America, it remains to be seen if it can become a true international box office hit. As an actor, he can weather the mixed reviews, especially since he's the most beloved thing in each of them, but he also has another role in this film as a producer. It's a great step forward for Boyega, being part of that market in a more direct manner. More involvement, more risk, although this may be a smart gamble.
The film isn't a guaranteed hit, but it is one that has been made to heavily appeal to Chinese audiences - it's partly funded by Chinese production companies, parts of the film are in Mandarin, it's set in Hong Kong, and so on - because the first film was such a huge hit there. So, whether or not it does well in North America is almost inconsequential. Boyega is smart enough to know that his best chances as a leading man outside of Star Wars will happen in movies that appeal best to international crowds.
Boyega's presence in Pacific Rim Uprising and its status as a China-focused blockbuster also signals a major shift forward for the way we think of the international market. For far too long, one of the defenses the film industry used to justify the lack of diversity in major big-budget fare was the claim that actors of color, particularly black actors, don't play well to Asian audiences. If that stereotype wasn't already crushed by the massive success of the racially inclusive Fast and Furious movies, then it was certainly refuted by the recent opening weekend of Black Panther. In China alone, Marvel's multi-record breaking epic had a projected $60m opening weekend. Boyega leading a major film like this, both as producer and star, and having it appeal to such a wide base of audiences not only cements his movie-star status but helps pave the way for further change.
What's Next for John Boyega?
Boyega's future seems mostly dominated by Star Wars. Episode 9 is next on his filmography, with fans hoping Finn will feature more prominently in this installment than he did in The Last Jedi. He’ll also be lending his voice to a new animated adaptation of the childhood classic Watership Down. After that, his filmography is empty, but there’s tons of things we’d love to see him do.
As an actor and producer, he could lend his talents to a whole host of projects that would further allow him to demonstrate his talent and leading-man charm. Having a go at some comedy, or maybe another action-comedy hybrid in the vein of what Dwayne Johnson has been doing with great success over the past few years. Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit was not widely seen but Boyega's work in it showed how well he does quieter dramatic work, so why not let him explore that further? Some fans have suggested him as a strong choice for a Blade reboot, or for the role of John Stewart in the next Green Lantern film, and it's hard to disagree with either of those options.
At this point in his career, John Boyega has the world ahead of him, and if Hollywood is smart enough, they’ll give him plenty of opportunities to cement his status as a legitimate movie star. The industry doesn’t really make A-Listers in that classic vein anymore, but Boyega has the potential to reinvigorate that model for the age of modern international cinema. Pacific Rim Uprising may succeed, or it may flop, but John Boyega’s future is sealed.
- Pacific Rim Uprising (2018) release date: Mar 23, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019