Connect with us


The Rock’s popularity in China led to ‘Skyscraper’ box-office rebound



Skyscarper Universal

  • After a soft opening in North America last weekend,
    Dwayne Johnson’s “Skyscraper” rebounded big time in its second
    weekend in theaters.
  • It was the highest-grossing movie in the world over the
    weekend, with a global box-office take of $85 million.
  • A big reason for that is its performance in

It looks as if you can table all of the “Rock fatigue” chatter.

After Dwayne Johnson’s latest movie, “Skyscraper,” opened
domestically last weekend with a very soft $24.9 million on more than
3,700 screens, the trades were quick to attribute the worst
opening for The Rock in three years to overexposure of the
larger-than-life superstar.

But many seemed to forget one thing: The movie hadn’t opened in
China yet.

In the past few years, Johnson has put extra time into ensuring
that his brand is prevalent in the Middle Kingdom, and
Universal/Legendary Entertainment, the backers of “Skyscraper,”
are now reaping the rewards.

“Skyscraper” opened in China over the weekend and was the top
movie, with a $48.4 million opening. The movie became the
top-earning title of the weekend worldwide, with a box-office
take surpassing $86 million (it earned $11 million in North
America and $27.3 million in other international territories).

For the most part, it’s a moral victory for Johnson. With a slew
of popular holdovers in theaters and stiff competition coming
this weekend from “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” “Skyscraper”
will not have much time on the mountaintop. But what this weekend
did prove was why Johnson is the biggest — and most savvy — movie
star working right now.

Doubling down on the China market

The performance of “Skyscraper” in China wasn’t attributed only
to the fact that posters of Johnson, hanging from a very large
building, appeared all over the place. Like “Rampage,” when

the actor flew to Shanghai to promote the movie
(and helped
it earn over $150 million in its China
), Johnson was back hustling in China for his latest

This time he went to Beijing and Hong Kong, where the movie is
set, to get the word out about “Skyscraper.”

But that was not the only play The Rock had this time around.

Along with Johnson’s tireless promotion, the movie also had a
rare summer release in China for an American-produced project.
This time of year,
Beijing often puts a blackout
on foreign releases, but
“Skyscraper” slipped in thanks to its being cofinanced by
Legendary Entertainment, which is owned by the Chinese
conglomerate Wanda.

That meant that at a time of year when the fastest-growing movie
market typically doesn’t get huge American stars on the big
screen, suddenly The Rock was front and center.

A movie designed to do well in China

Another thing working in the favor of “Skyscraper” was that, from
the beginning, it was made for the China market.

The film’s director, Rawson Marshall Thurber, told Business
Insider that even before he pitched the idea of the movie to
Johnson, he wanted it to be set in Hong Kong. That was mainly
because it’s one of the few places that could believably house
the world’s tallest skyscraper.

Thurber was also aware of that region’s appetite for cinema.

“The Middle Kingdom is massive and only growing, so it’s
certainly not by accident that we set the film in Hong Kong,”
Thurber said.

The director also made sure to cast a recognizable actor to
Chinese audiences playing across from Johnson. The veteran Asian
star Chin Han played the role of
the man behind the creation of the skyscraper in the movie, and
by the end he’s fighting alongside Johnson against the bad guys
who have taken it over.

“I wanted to make a movie that felt authentic to a place, that
felt authentic to Hong Kong, that the Chinese people would
embrace,” Thurber said.

With “Skyscraper” now grossing more than $179 million worldwide,
it’s no longer a doom-and-gloom scenario when it comes to
Johnson’s ability to carry a movie. And for studios, this weekend
also probably reassured them that if a movie from The Rock
doesn’t connect stateside, it can always rely on China.

Continue Reading
Advertisement Find your dream job