While most were soaking themselves in dry beer at one of the umpteen Comic-Con parties last night, Dwayne Johnson was tapping away on a computer – answering fan questions on Reddit.
Though the majority of the talk was teed to his new film “Hercules” – the reason he was on Reddit, essentially – Johnson did touch on some interesting things, like how Paul Walker’s passing affected him.
On Paul Walker…
Finishing Fast and Furious without Paul was very bittersweet. His death was heartbreaking and in a way, informed us that we should be even more grateful for every waking minute and hug our loved ones and friends just that much tighter and stronger. I truly feel audiences will be very happy and emotionally moved by Fast 7. Im proud of the movie we made – proud of my fellow actors, director, studio partners and hard working blue collar film crew. The truth is, like all movies – Fast and Furious will come and go and hopefully, leave an incredible movie legacy behind. To me, the #1 most important thing I care about is making sure his daughter has stability in her life and good solid men around her to help raise her in the wake of Paul’s passing.
On being in an “Expendables” movie…
If you’re asking if I would consider being in the EXPENDABLES franchise – then the answer is yes. BUT.. I don’t want to be on their team and be buddies with them. F*ck that noise. I want to hunt every single one of them down and tell them to “send your soul to heaven cause your ass is mine.” Rousey lives cause she’d be my characters training partner and Crews lives as well cause my character would need someone to compete at pec popping with.
On doing a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger
Schwarzenegger himself crashed the Reddit and answered the question!
“I just came here to congratulate Dwayne, but you just gave me a great idea for a movie. I would love to do a movie with Dwayne – the Oak and the Rock – it couldn’t be more perfect. Anyway, congratulations Dwayne. The movie looks fantastic and I can tell you know what’s best in life. Let’s get together soon and share sword stories.”
Dwayne’s response? “Awesome, look forward to swappin’ sword stories.”
SUNDAY 9 AM, 6TH UPDATE: This was another down weekend, an estimated -13% compared to last year’s total moviegoing. Domestic box office for Summer 2014 continues down -20% for the worst May-through-August in 8 years. first time since 2001, no film has crossed $300M in North American runs.) Remember, however, that Fast And Furious 7 was postponed from a July 11 release due to Paul Walker’s tragic death. And Paramount’s Transformers: Age Of Extinction, the 4th film in the franchise, should reach $1 billion worldwide grosses next weekend. But, with a few exceptions, moviegoers are less than thrilled with this year’s product. One bright spot this weekend: both major newcomers overperformed.
Read my Kill Me Now: Comic-Con Crapfest movie roundup.
Writer/director Luc Besson’s Lucy (3,172 theaters) starring Scarlett Johansson as the action lead for Universal opened to $17M Friday and $15.1M Saturday. With an estimated $11.9M Sunday, that’s a strong $44.1M weekend start for an R-rated movie and an easy #1. That includes $2.746M from 2,386 Thursday late shows (following an early AMC theaters reporting glitch). Pic outmuscled #2 Paramount/MGM’s Hercules (opening at 3,590 theaters including IMAX). Directed by Brett Ratner and starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the ancient Greek strongman outperformed for $11M Friday and $10.6M Saturday. With an estimated $8.2M Sunday, that’s $29.9M this weekend. The hunk started its first weekend with $2.1M from 2,053 Thursday late shows which, as I said earlier, signaled the higher total. Herc is expected to do much of its theatrical biz overseas and began its international launch this weekend in 26 markets grossing $28.7M through Sunday for a worldwide cume of $57.7M (led by Russia). Both films had almost identical better-than-middling scores on Rotten Tomatoes (65% to 63% fresh reviews) but from audiences Hercules received a B+ Cinemascore and Lucy only a C+ which didn’t hurt word of mouth.
According to Fandango, the female-powered original was leading weekend ticket sales and outselling recent Tom Cruise action comps like Oblivion and Edge Of Tomorrow. With a $40M budget from the filmmaker’s EuropaCorp shingle, Besson – after La Femme Nikita, The Professional and The Fifth Element – plays off Johannson’s recent turn as Black Widow in the Marvel franchise and an artificially intelligent being in Her. Besson wanted to make this film for a decade, ever since he met at dinner a professor who studied the cell nucleus and he became founder of the Brain and Spine Institute in Paris. “I thought, okay, I don’t want to do a documentary about this, I want to do a film,” he told media. (Though one reviewer said the goofy and loopy Lucy plays “more like a big dumb superhero flick” than sci-fi.) In the pic, Johansson plays a super-human increasingly unlocking her brain capacity from the alleged 10% which most humans use to fully 100% – and havoc ensues. Of course, who among us employs less than 10% and willingly believes all the untrue bullshit that movies spew. (“I always wondered if we could mix an action thriller with a philosophical background. It doesn’t have to be one or the other,” Besson said. The studio is high on the pic noting, “It’s one of this summer’s very few R-rated films outside of the comedy or horror genres and was tracking strong across age, gender and ethnic segments.” Exit polling showed the audience was 50% female/50% male, with 35% under age 25/65% age 25 and older, and 35% Caucasian, 29% Hispanic, 19% African American, 12% Asian, and 5% other.
I loved the marketing for Lucy because it was easy to understand for the un-brainy among us but also made the film look sophisticated as the campaign, in summary, “asked people what one human could truly do if he or she accessed the furthest reaches of their mind.”. It was designed to create buzz for a new kind of scifi action hero among adults age 18-49 through a mix of television, outdoor, radio, and Spanish-language media. TV focused heavily on sports and action programming. Universal held 50 promotional screenings in the U.S. and Canada while Hispanic outreach included a major presence on Univision’s World Cup programming and World Cup adjacent shows and at Latino grassroots events such as the Reventon Super Estrella concert in Los Angeles in July. First look was in the March 28th Entertainment Weekly. Johannson did a ton of print while Besson went to WonderCon in April where he debuted the online trailer and to Cinema Europe with clips. The digital campaign included an immersive film site incorporation with text streamer Spritz Technology. In August, a Lucy graphic novel will be released online with 4 chapters appearing every other day for one week. Lucy will be the opener of the Locarno Film Festival while Besson plans to tour for the film in Korea and Taiwan.
I’m a sucker for Johnson especially in this kind of flick where his increasingly honed acting skills get used as a sword-for-hire. Paramount opened its Comic-Con presentation in San Diego with the surprise appearance of The Rock strolling through the aisles past screaming fans who gave him a standing ‘o’. “Finally, The Rock has come back to Comic-Con!” he roared, then promoed his pic. Surprisingly PG-13, this Hercules is based on Radical Comics’ “Hercules” by the late Steve Moore. Ratner takes the mythical hero and son of Zeus and turns him into a very human mercenary in this popcorn pic which cost $100M and hopes to finally launch another franchise (unlike The Legend Of Hercules which bombed with an $8.9M debut earlier this year). “As a kid growing up, I dreamed of making a swords and sandals movie, and Hercules is the first superhero,” Rattner told media. “I read the graphic novel and this story demystified the myth. A lot of these films, in modern times, are all about the spectacle, the visual effects. I set to make something that was grounded, that was realistic, that had emotion, that had heart, that had characters, that was an ensemble.” The film was written by Ryan J Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos.
Herc’s first theatrical teaser trailer (in 2D) debuted on March 28th with the studio’s Noah and played with Oculus, Draft Day, Haunted House, Brick Mansion, Chef, A Million Ways To Die In The West, all little-seen films. (Why bother?) The 3D trailer launched in front of Day After Tomorrow , Transformers: Age of Extinction and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. An exclusive behind-the-scenes making of spot, with Johnson greeting, played to moveigoers on over 6,000 movie screens at Regal Cinemas from late May to mid June, then at Cineplex and Cinemark. Circuit marketing support was significant because of interactive social media marketing & giveaways and dedicated fan outreach. Media relied on sports, taking advantage of NBA finals, World Cup, NASCAR, UFC and baseball. Online, The Rock posted his guide to becoming a warrior at TeamHercules.com hosted meet-ups for fans. Hispanics, African-Americans, and gamers were targeted with custom content. Johnson did an unprecedented amount of pre-release press and TV. Promotions were tied to Red Robin restaurants and Hercules Tires.
Finishing out the Top 5 are all sequels this weekend:
1. Lucy (Universal) NEW [Runs 3173] R Friday $17.0M, Saturday $15.1M, Sunday $11.9M, Weekend $44.1M
2. Hercules (MGM/Paramount) NEW [Runs 3595] PG13 Friday $11.0M, Saturday $10.6M, Sunday $8.1M, Weekend $29.9M
3. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (Fox) Week 3 [Runs 3668] PG13 Friday $4.6M, Saturday $6.6M, Sunday $4.9M, Weekend $16.3M, Cume $171.9M
4. The Purge: Anarchy (Universal) Week 2 [Runs 2856] R Friday $3.3M, Saturday $3.8M, Sunday $2.7M, Weekend $9.9M (-67%), Cume $51.3M
5. Planes: Fire and Rescue (Disney) Week 2 [Runs 3839] PG Friday $2.7M, Saturday $3.7M, Sunday $2.7M, Weekend $9.2M (-47%), Cume $35.0M
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Dwayne Johnson workout.
When ya see a guy the size of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson … one obvious question pops in your head, but whatever you do — do NOT ask it out loud … as our camera guy learned.
The Rock — so damn huge he’s playing “Hercules” — was in NYC Tuesday when our pap fell into gym meathead mode and asked, “How much are you benching?”
You gotta see Rock’s initial reaction to the question (which he must hear 100 times/day) — but he does eventually hit the photog with the perfect answer … for the smartass question.
The MGM and Paramount feature Hercules, with Dwayne Johnson is an impressive retelling of the legendary myth of a stupendously strong hero in an alternative story of a demigod. While many will automatically think of the actor Kevin Sorbo and his small screen portrayal of the “half God” hero, this film’s different slant on the strongman should put Johnson in a league all his own.
The film has a very impressive cast list on top of its 3D imagery. John Hurt, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell and Joseph Fiennes round out the well known stars in the movie. Outside of the “name” actors, jobbing character actor Peter Mullan turns in a great performance as a nasty general. Norwegian actress Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, who looks so much like more muscular Nicole Kidman it is startling, is wonderful as the Amazonian warrior on Hercules’ team.
Director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour 1,2 and 3; X-Men: The Last Stand) works this retelling of the Hercules myth almost like an ensemble piece. Although not quite, Johnson’s character is the focus here but the story shows the importance of his colleagues almost every step of the way. Each member of this team of mercenary good guys, and gal, have their own part to play and each one shows their personalized support.
Kudos have to be given to Ian McShane as the “seer” who uses “herbs” to foretell the outcome of battles and what may lay over the next hill. He also has some pretty splendid comical moments as well. However, the former leading-man actor has a scene or two which are quite impressive and not the least funny. Brett Ratner’s alternative story of the demigod Hercules, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the mythical hero entertains in a more old fashioned sense of the meaning. There is no explicit sex and for a film with so much sword play, not that much gore either.
The story is that Hercules and his group of supporters are all mercenaries who help those who can pay them. His “legend” is spread by the Storyteller Iolaus, played with great comic enthusiasm by Reece Ritchie (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, The Lovely Bones). This “demigod” is portrayed, by his “publicist” as the hero who slays the creatures assigned to him by the Gods in order to gain his reward.
This film is based upon the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars. In the movie, Johnson and his cohorts first aid and then fight the King of Thracia. A plot thread of the hero’s wife and children being murdered by the king of Athens gives Hercules a more tortured persona and helps to give him a greater depth than just a muscle bound “sword for hire.” It is also interesting to see John Hurt in a role where he is one nasty bit of work.
Johnson has come a long way as an actor. His character portrayals just keep getting better and better. Although to be perfectly honest, his work in early films like the 2003 film The Rundown, aka Welcome to the Jungle was pretty polished for a performer who was just making the transition to lead roles in movies.
One thing that “The Rock” has in all his roles is a feel of earnestness, honesty and a genuine performance. His Hercules feels right in this alternative story of a “demigod.” Dwayne Johnson brings realism and a relaxed, although tortured, sort of command to the role. In that instance he is the big screen version of Kevin Sorbo’s more relaxed hero, although Sorbo had a lot more humor and lot less angst in his Hercules. Brett Ratner’s film is entertaining as well as amusing where it needs to be and has enough action to keep the most hardcore sword and sandal fan satisfied. Hercules is airing at cinemas across the country. The film has incredible feats of strength, epic sword fights and a pretty decent plot. What more does a mythological film need?
Actor Dwayne Johnson attends the premiere of Paramount Pictures’ “HERCULES” at TCL Chinese Theatre on July 23, 2014 in Hollywood, California.
More pics has been added to the galleries.
Actor Dwayne Johnson attends the Paramount Studios presentation during Comic-Con International 2014 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 24, 2014 in San Diego, California.
More pics has been added to the galleries.