By Lisa Tate
It’s a new year, and a new slew of movies for some fans to praise with blind franchise faith, others to pick apart until there is no marrow of enjoyment for the “professional” movie critic to suck out, and the rest of us to completely ignore.
That’s if last year was any indication. Even with the odd hit last year’s movie going scene wasn’t the greatest for filmmakers. I’m not going to argue the reasons for this but rather, offer the opportunity of a new year to give moviemakers a way to put posteriors back into those theatre seats.
For all you fledgling filmmakers, looking for that secret formula to success, I think I’ve discovered it, and am sharing it with you at no cost.
It is as follows:
• Take one Rock
• Toss him in a Jungle (or similarly green setting)
• Wait for the blessings of high ticket sales to rain down upon you.
Okay, maybe don’t bet your entire career on this, but this recipe does seem like it works. The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) has been cooking up hits jungle throughout his career.
At least this is what’s happened with The Rock’s current hit, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. According to various movie sources such as Screenrant, the movie opened just one week after Star Wars: The Last Jedi and it was still a huge success. While Star Wars brought in tons of viewers and money, it wasn’t exactly bringing audiences together. Some people loved it; others did not. Not so with Jumanji. It has gained a predictable 76 percent from critics, but a solid 90 percent among fans on Rotten Tomatoes.
By Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Jumanji had become the number one movie in America, beating out The Last Jedi. In all fairness, Jedi has made well over $1 billion world wide, while Jumanji has earned around $700 million. Still, that’s pretty good for a comedy “sorta sequel” to a 1995 movie loosely based on the bestselling Chris Van Allsburg picture book.
I got to experience this phenomenon over the holidays, when we hauled a group of extended family members ranging from nine to 78 to see Jumanji, and everyone laughed the entire time. It was just pure, simple fun. Was it one of the greatest movies ever made? Far from it, but it didn’t need to be. It only needed to be a fun escape for everyone, giving us all some for whom to cheer. Granted, everyone involved in the movie did a great job. Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan were all hilarious. The Rock “smoldering” his way through the jungle set a perfect balance of comedic timing and action hero star power. He looked like he was having so much fun, you couldn’t help but have fun with him.
Now, here’s the interesting thing, while we were there, the preview which gained the biggest response was for the upcoming video game-inspired movie Rampage, in which we see The Rock, in the jungle (both natural and concrete).
It seems, The Rock likes the jungle and tropical places, from hiding out on green Polynesian islands in the animates Disney hit Moana, to venturing into Brazilian rainforests in the action comedy, The Rundown (which, by the way was titled Welcome to the Jungle in some countries). Even a couple of his not-so-big projects took him into the jungle, like the sequel to the remake of Journey to the Center of the Earth, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Remember his appearance as The Scorpion King in Mummy Returns? They found his unfortunately cheesy CGI likeness hiding out far from the desert in the jungle.
A rolling stone may gather no moss, but a Rock needs to get his feet moist in the dense humid growth of the jungle from time to time to keep moviegoers happy.
As for the future, one of projects he currently has in pre-production is a live action film based on the Disney Parks attraction, The Jungle Cruise. You know, what? I think it will be hoot…and a hit.
I’ve also noticed he is planning on portraying the awesomely manly-man vintage comic hero, Doc Savage, who goes around the world battling villains. If this movie does get made, please oh please, Mr. Johnson, at some point, go into the jungle. We’ll all follow you.