Is Dwayne Johnson Hollywood's rock-solid sequel savior?

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Image Credit: Future-Image/ZUMAPRESS.com

If Fast Five‘s record-breaking opening weekend proved anything, it’s that moviegoers love fast cars and franchises — especially if star Dwayne Johnson is attached. In April, the professional wrestler-turned-actor (which, let’s face it, pretty much translates to barely clothed actor-turned-slightly more clothed actor) helped the Fast & the Furious films continue on their upward trajectory, attracting new fans to the furiously money-making films. But it’s not the first time the actor has successfully hopped on board an already existing franchise: His first star-making turn was in 2001′s follow-up to The Mummy, The Mummy Returns. He impressed in 2005′s sorta Get Short sequel, Be Cool. He boasted a role in Tyler Perry’s 2010 Why Did I Get Married? follow-up, Why Did I Get Married Too? He’s set to appear on screens this fall in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. And, finally, EW has confirmed Deadline’s report that Johnson’s in talks for a role in G.I. Joe: Cobra Strikes.

With the exception of Be Cool — and the yet-to-be-released Journey 2 — all these sequels were relative hits in their genres. So what is it about Johnson that attracts audiences to already existing franchises? What makes him, as my colleague Darren Franich called him, Franchise Viagra? I’d like to think that, for one, unlike most “movie stars” these days (see: Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, Reese Witherspoon), Johnson seems to be able to guarantee a pleasurable movie experience. Yes, you won’t see Oscar-caliber performances from the actor (yet), but you are also unlikely to exit the theater gravely disappointed in his most recent work. (Jennifer Aniston, see: Just Go With It. George Clooney, see: The American. Reese Witherspoon, see: How Do You Know.) Johnson is a marketable actor: He’s family friendly and goofy enough to attract fans young enough to buy a ticket for Journey 2, but still boasts the street cred necessarily to topline Fast Five. So who better to invite to reinvigorate an existing set of films than the man who, like all the best forms of entertainment, is appropriate for ages 3 and up? That’s a lot of movie tickets!

What say you, PopWatchers: How has Johnson developed into the sequel savior?

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateWardEW

Read more:
Vin Diesel vs. Dwayne Johnson: Who won ‘Fast Five’?
Dwayne Johnson gearing up for ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ sequel
Dwayne Johnson Gets ‘Smart’

Comments (39 total) Add your comment
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  • RS

    Yo, Dwayne! My kids are still waiting on a Witch Mountain sequel. And I’d go if Carla Gugino was in it again!

    • The Other Guy

      Witch Mountain was horrible, even with Dwayne, unfortunately. But I guess he is a sequel savior, since he is a cool dude.

  • adam

    Journey 2? Was there ever a Journey 1?

    • Grubi

      The first one was Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, with Brendon Fraser.

  • Shakespeare

    Get real! The only reason why people went to see FAST FIVE was Vin Diesel, they threw the ROCK in it to get the gay audience to show up!

    • Jake

      Umm. im gay and i didnt show up for Vin Diesel or The Rock or for any of the guys but because i thought the movie looked good.

    • ks

      Whatever!! That’s just your opinion

    • LMAO

      LMAO…Good one pal…Love it.

  • HUH?

    I enjoyed just go with it.

    • ASFan

      Well, the EW reviewer did not. I did, though, and considering its box office performance compared to other films released within the first few months of the year, I’d say a lot of other people did too. I’d have used The Bounty Hunter as a much better example.

      • Juan

        I enjoyed Just Go With It very much too. If nobody else, Jen Aniston did really well in the movie.
        And also How Do You Know was decent too. I didn’t hate it.

  • Petra

    Let’s face it, he’s extremely likeable. He doesn’t try too hard, he doesn’t go over the top, he can play good guy or bad guy and you like him either way. You can tell he’s having fun making movies. Good for him and good for the audience.

    • KP

      Well said!

      • Petra

        Thank you.

    • CW

      Couldn’t say it any better myself.

    • Jeannie

      I completely agree! There’s something very likable and charming about him. He always seems to be having a good time with the roles he plays and it almost always translates into the audience having a good time.

  • Mr. Holloway

    There’s something to do this.

    I HATED “Be Cool” with a passion…but even I could see that The Rock was the best thing in it. (Probably the only good thing in it.)

  • Dave

    And yet, those disappointing movies you list for those other movie stars are all better than The Mummy Returns or Why Did I Get Maried Too or The Game Plan or The Tooth Fairy.

    • Meghan

      Whoa, you can dump on that third Mummy movie ALL you like, but the second one was still solid entertainment.

    • Tia

      The Game Plan and The Tooth Fairy were sweet family movies. Sometimes a movie doesn’t have to be thought provoking, it just let’s you escape.

      • Q

        There are much better family movies.

      • Jeannie

        Exactly! I thought The Game Plan was sweet and charming. It wasn’t ground-breaking by any means but it was cute and silly and entertaining!

  • rock rules

    The guy is just fun to watch. Sure he’s no Olivier but he’s entertaining. The fact that he is hot as hell doesn’t hurt either.

  • AK

    Nothing against Dwayne Johnson, because he seems like a genuinely nice guy and he is an enjoyable actor. But when he’s making movies like “Fast Five” and “Be Cool,” are audiences really bringing any sort of expectations to his work? It’s hard to be “gravely disappointed” in something that promises nothing.

    • Q

      Very true. Anyone paying money to see a movie like Fast Five is mostly in it to see fast cars, loud action sequences, big explosions, and eye candy. Or course they aren’t going to be disappointed. They are getting exactly what they pay for. It’s not that simple for a movie like The American, so it’s an unfair comparison.

  • didi

    Part of his vast appeal is that he always looks like he’s having a good time. He genuinely looks like he likes what he does for a ling. And that’s always attractive and enjoyable. Good for him. I’ll keep buying tickets for his films as long as he keeps enjoying making them.

    • Meghan

      Agreed!

    • ks

      I get the same impression when I see him, in any movie he is in. I take umbrage to the fact that he killed the charger in FF :)

  • MhM

    The Rock is the man..completely agree with the article. He will never dissapoint you or really regret you saw the movie, but has never been over the top fantastic. Somewhere right in the middle, the guy has crazy energy though and you feel it in those action type roles. Hope (if they end up making it) he will be in the Expendables 2.

  • Juan

    Even if it’s Game Plan he made it enjoyable. As a pro wrestling actor or movie actor he’s very cool to watch.

  • aa

    Just as long as he stays away from prequels love the rock but scorpion king was awful. I’m very excited about g.i. Joe though, unlike everyone I really enjoyed the first one.

  • Gabriel

    the Rock as Luke cage power man ,or as the Black Panther ..anyone ..sounds like fun

  • PV

    there is just something so likeable about the guy. My family even rented The Tooth Fairy because he was in it (and my youngest sibling is 19 lol).

    He is something like gold I guess. Gets people to watch his movies whatever they are.

    • Movie

      He Is in a lot of movies and when people see him in it they automatically want to see it (in my opinion) because people like him and think he is funny – at least in the game plan he was.

      And also, Jennifer Aniston is in everything! She must have been in like 300 movies because every new commercial I see, it seems like she in that movie!

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