The Rock’s new film Skyscraper bombs in the US but opens big in China
Film produced by Legendary, owned by China’s Wanda
Dwayne Johnson has saved the world time and time again in a variety of films. But this time The Rock needed help: His latest film was saved by moviegoers in China.
Skyscraper raked in US$48 million this weekend in China… which is more than the US$46m it’s made in 10 days in the United States.
Skyscraper’s lopsided success in China is not exactly unexpected. It’s from a Chinese-owned Hollywood production company, Wanda’s Legendary Entertainment. And it does seem to tick a few China-centric boxes that make it seem like they were trying to create a film specifically for the country:
And yup, that is exactly what Skyscraper is about: An American flexes his muscles and China shows off its modernity. Everybody wins! Well, except for whoever thought The Rock could make this jump:
This isn’t the first time Legendary made a film with a very different reception in China and the US. Remember the Great Wall in 2016, where Matt Damon acts as a Western savior for ancient China? That movie did almost five times better in China than in North America.
Skyscraper’s success in China is all the more impressive when you consider July is actually the country’s Domestic Movie Protection Month, where homegrown movies get the priority of being shown in cinema.
For instance, Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp had to delay its China premiere this year to avoid this month. In the past, huge hits like The Dark Knight Rises and War of the Planet of the Apes were all postponed for the same reason.
But besides Skyscraper being lucky by being the only foreign film in the quota for July, you might still ask: Why do Chinese people dig The Rock so much?
Some critics said that people watch Skyscraper or the Fast and the Furious series (another film that’s done much better in China than expected) simply because there are no homegrown substitutes to these “muscle action movies”.
Don’t forget that China was much more sheltered in the 80s, so many people never got to see golden-age action movies with the likes of Stallone and Schwarzenegger. So huge men like The Rock and Vin Diesel brawling on screen is still a huge draw in China.
(Also, he’s The Rock. Everyone loves him, right?)