If Fast Five’s record-breaking opening weekend proved anything, it’s that moviegoers love fast cars and franchises – especially if star Dwayne Johnson is attached. In April, the professional wrestler-turned-actor (which, let’s face it, pretty much translates to barely clothed actor-turned-slightly more clothed actor) helped the Fast & the Furious films continue on their upward trajectory, attracting new fans to the furiously money-making films. But it’s not the first time the actor has successfully hopped on board an already existing franchise: His first star-making turn was in 2001’s follow-up to The Mummy, The Mummy Returns. He impressed in 2005’s sorta Get Short sequel, Be Cool. He boasted a role in Tyler Perry’s 2010 Why Did I Get Married? follow-up, Why Did I Get Married Too? He’s set to appear on screens this fall in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. And, finally, EW has confirmed Deadline’s report that Johnson’s in talks for a role in G.I. Joe: Cobra Strikes.
With the exception of Be Cool – and the yet-to-be-released Journey 2 – all these sequels were relative hits in their genres. So what is it about Johnson that attracts audiences to already existing franchises? What makes him, as my colleague Darren Franich called him, Franchise Viagra?
I’d like to think that, for one, unlike most “movie stars” these days (see: Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, Reese Witherspoon), Johnson seems to be able to guarantee a pleasurable movie experience. Yes, you won’t see Oscar-caliber performances from the actor (yet), but you are also unlikely to exit the theater gravely disappointed in his most recent work. (Jennifer Aniston, see: Just Go With It. George Clooney, see: The American. Reese Witherspoon, see: How Do You Know.) Johnson is a marketable actor: He’s family friendly and goofy enough to attract fans young enough to buy a ticket for Journey 2, but still boasts the street cred necessarily to topline Fast Five. So who better to invite to reinvigorate an existing set of films than the man who, like all the best forms of entertainment, is appropriate for ages 3 and up? That’s a lot of movie tickets!
What say you, PopWatchers: How has Johnson developed into the sequel savior?
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