If anyone were to have thoughts about Baywatch as a movie versus Baywatch as a TV series, I’d expect it to be Pamela Anderson, who built an entire career out of playing C.J. in the popular TV series and seemed to really enjoy the gig. Unfortunately, if you were to ask her about her feelings on The Rock’s take on the franchise, she’s less positive about how the movie came out.
It’s worth noting that Pamela Anderson did admit she saw the 2017 version of Baywatch, which starred Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson, but she also was pretty blunt when she explained why she’s not a fan, telling Watch What Happens Live’s Andy Cohen:
I didn't like it. Let's just keep the bad TV as bad TV. That's what's charming about Baywatch, you know? Trying to make these movies out of television, is just messing with it.
Ahead of the release of Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron’s Baywatch, there was a lot of attention on the fact the movie would be an R-rated comedy that was expected to be a raunch comedy. While the film had a lot of hype, it ended up being broader and featured more generic humor than expected. Its story also fell flat, both with critics and audiences at the box office--particularly in domestic markets.
On an alleged $69 million budget, the movie only made a little over $177 million worldwide, so it certainly could have been worse. However, the majority of that money came from international markets, markets where the studio takes home a much smaller percentage of the overall movie intake. A better way to look at this given the star power may be to look at a ranking of Dwayne Johnson movies by box office intake. By that measure, Baywatch doesn’t come anywhere close to the Top 10. In fact, it ranks 25th.
Although Pamela Anderson, who was more known as a TV star and not a film actress during her heyday, went on to elaborate that by going “big budget” with Baywatch the film lost its charm.
You know, $65 million dollars you can make a great movie. We made our shows for like $500,000. It was like guerrilla filmmaking. We had the same explosions, the same scenes on the water. That was the fun part. Being creative.
There’s an LA Times article from the ‘90s citing Baywatch’s David Hasselhoff revealing “less is more” was a slogan those who worked on the show were familiar with. Episodes were made for around $40,000 apiece and the action sequences were decidedly not why people watched.
In short, it wasn’t exactly Game of Thrones, but the tone and budget were part of the reasons the show was a success for a decade on television, eventually even spawning a Hawaii version and a spinoff Baywatch Nights. Hyping up the action, the star power and the f-bombs, in Pamela Anderson’s opinion, wasn’t the right way to go about it.
Interestingly, David Hasselhoff has been equally blunt about the Baywatch big screen movie previously, saying it wasn't anything like his Baywatch and was decidedly closer to Dirty Grandpa, though he tried to be nice about the cast after making that statement. I'm willing to guess if you took a poll of all the former Baywatch TV actors they might feel similarly about the differences between the TV show and the big screen debut. Meanwhile, I'm equally willing to guess we won't be getting a Baywatch 2 anytime soon.