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This past weekend saw the release of a big action movie starring Dwayne Johnson. It should have been a recipe for success. However, that wasn't exactly the case. Skyscraper opened in third place at the box office behind Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation and Ant-Man and the Wasp in its second weekend, with an anemic $25 million. This is clearly not the place Skyscraper expected to be. So what the hell happened?
As is usually the case, there's more than one answer. A number of different factors came together to result in Skyscraper's less-than-stellar performance. Let's break a few of them down.
The Rock Isn't Actually Bulletproof
Dwayne Johnson is, without question, one of the biggest stars on the planet. However, that doesn't mean that literally everything that he touches will turn to gold. While he was the lead in last year's Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which exceeded expectations in a big way, that's been one of The Rock's only blockbuster hits that wasn't a Fast and Furious film or an animated Disney movie. Even his last movie, Rampage, while it saw a better opening than Skyscraper, wouldn't have been strong enough to take first place this past weekend.
Hotel Transylvania Is Kind Of A Big Deal
While the Hotel Transylvania movies might not be the first name you think of when you consider major animation franchises, the films have done remarkably well over the years. The previous film in the series grossed nearly a half billion dollars worldwide and the franchise is on the verge of the billion-dollar mark. This means that competition at the box office was perhaps a bit stiffer than people may have previously considered. With the exception of Incredibles 2, this was probably the biggest family release of the summer, which means small children, and their parents, likely hit the theater in droves to beat the summer heat and enjoy a movie together.
It Was An Original Idea
It's been an often lamented aspect of modern moviemaking, but the fact of the matter is, movies tend to do better when they're attached to a recognizable name. Whether they're sequels or adaptations of already existing properties, films with names that viewers recognize start in a much better position. People have an expectation of what they're going to get which makes them more likely to spend money on it, and less likely to spend money if they feel the movie is more of a risk. Of the top 10 movies of 2018 so far, only one, A Quiet Place, wasn't a sequel or an adaptation. While Skyscraper was certainly inspired by movies known to the public, the fact that it didn't share one of those names hurt.
It Was Too Much Like Die Hard
One of those movies that Skyscraper did bear a striking resemblance to was Die Hard. The plot, about one man taking on a group of apparent terrorists inside a high-rise building, could be used to describe either movie. The filmmakers certainly didn't try to pretend that there wasn't at least some of the action movie classic in this film, but that may not have worked to their benefit. A movie that's based on a classic action movie would be one thing, a film that feels like it's trying to ride the coattails of that movie is something else. If people thought Skyscraper was just a cheap cash in, that almost certainly couldn't match the original, then why waste the time?
Too Much Rock At The Movies Recently
Dwayne Johnson may be the hardest working man in Hollywood. It seems he always has an endless list of future projects and he's always working on something. That work ethic is commendable, but one wonders if it might be working against him. Skyscraper is Johnson's seventh film since June of 2016. He's averaging one movie released in theaters every three and a half months. That's a lot of The Rock. It's possible fans just need a break. The good news is, they're getting one. Johnson's next film, Fighting with My Family, one in which he'll appear, but will not star, won't hit until next March. We won't see him in a leading role again until Hobbs and Shaw which isn't set until next July, so we have 12 months for absence to make our hearts grow fonder.