‘San Andreas’ rocks Friday box office with $18.2 million

30 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Dwayne Johnson’s a joker on set.

In his new film San Andreas, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays a helicopter rescue pilot leading the evacuation of Los Angeles following an earthquake along the notorious fault. Hollywood action star Dwayne Johnson says he decided to take up his recently released disaster flick, San Andreas, as it had a human element. “I loved the script after reading the first 30 pages.Director Brad Peyton, who reunites with the star for the second time since Journey 2: The Mysterious Island in 2012, admitted he fell victim to one of the actor’s tricks. “He’s a total joker on set, absolutely. And natural disaster aside, life recently imitated art for the 6ft 4in, 252lb wrestler turned action hero; California-born Johnson, 43, has fled La La Land, relocating to South Florida. “I sold my home because I was in LA for 10 years and I got to a point where business cannot only continue to run but can grow being down here,” he says, referring to film and TV projects that he is developing in Miami. “Every meeting I take, everybody flies in. San Andreas, which casts him as a Los Angeles Fire Department rescue pilot, explodes in theaters even as his megahit Furious 7 continues to roll at the box office.

Johnson says the already-hot Furious franchise was propelled to another level with the farewell to standout star Paul Walker, who died in a car crash on Nov. 30, 2013. “It was a lot of different elements coming together at the same time, and the lead element being Paul, seeing him for the very last time,” Johnson told theater owners last month at the CinemaCon convention. Currently it is co-producing new HBO American football comedy Ballers, in which Johnson also stars (of which more later) and which has been filming in Miami. Still, Johnson added his own star power as Luke Hobbs, with Rentrak analyst Paul Dergarabedian calling him “the ultimate box-office supercharger when added to the mix of existing franchises.” In March, Johnson hosted Saturday Night Live, opening with a skit about being “franchise Viagra.” His films — including the G.I. It’s embarrassingly bad – he got me so bad I refuse to say it out loud in public.” “He’s just such an amazing human being – he’s so caring and kind, he’s very god-like.

In the grand, self-starting American tradition, the company name refers to the sum total of Johnson’s life savings when he was a struggling sportsman two decades ago. Next month, he steps into the coveted HBO arena with new series Ballers (premiering June 21), which stars Johnson as a superstar athlete trying to reinvent himself as a financial manager.

A magnitude 9 earthquake in California? “It’s a good action flick and spectacular special effects … but not realistic from a seismological point of view,” said Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center and USC professor. Yet for all his physical and commercial clout, Johnson’s ascent to Hollywood’s top ranks has gone remarkably unheralded since he made his acting debut in 2001 in The Mummy Returns, following five years on the World Wrestling Entertainment circuit. So even when the San Andreas goes underwater, “it doesn’t move the ocean floor up or down very much,” Jordan said, which is needed to create a big tsunami. I’ve always seen first responders as unsung heroes and very special people, because when everyone else is running away from danger, they run into it,” says the 43-year-old actor.

In between a heavy worldwide promotional schedule for San Andreas (current stop: China), Johnson already has started filming the comedy Central Intelligence with Kevin Hart, in which he plays a lethal but dorky hitman. “Things are great right now, but you’ve got to hustle,” he says. “You have to create opportunities for yourself. Among the illustrious cast, however, it’s a cameo-ing Kylie Minogue who most excites him. “She’s petite and beautiful and has an amazing voice,” he says. “I’ve been a fan of hers for such a long time and I finally got to know how cool and empathetic she was on TV when she was part of The Voice. “The Loco-Motion”? He was in a relatively minor 4.7 magnitude quake in 2009. “I was right under my chandelier in this large foyer, and all of a sudden it started to shake.

The parties I have had to that song!” We met in Miami before the recent earthquake that devastated Nepal; since then Warner Bros has revamped San Andreas’ marketing campaign to include public safety information and details on how people can contribute to the relief effort. Johnson experienced hurricanes in Florida – he was living there when the category-five Hurricane Andrew hit the state in 1992 – and an earthquake in Los Angeles during the late nineties. “It was a small one,” he recalls. “[It] was strong at first and then it subsided. A month ago, Johnson, his longtime girlfriend Lauren Hashian and his 13-year-old daughter Simone (with ex-wife Dany Garcia) practiced quake drills and stocked disaster kits (quirky item: his beloved Pop-Tarts). However, San Andreas sees him extend his facial repertoire. “It’s not an alien, it’s not a bad guy shooting a gun and it’s not a tank – it’s an earthquake and downtown LA is coming down so it’s a different face I have,” he notes. “The scary face.

As for the Hoover Dam, experts have studied it for seismic risk and concluded “the probability of failure is very remote,” said Ernie Hall, senior civil engineer for the U.S. Premiering just after the new series of True Detective in the US next month, it sees him play a sports agent operating within the NFL and focuses on the relationships between him and the players he mentors. Three dams could begin to crack if a 7.8 quake hit the southern San Andreas fault, Jones said, referring to the USGS’ 2008 Shakeout earthquake scenario. “It’s not that they would explode in the middle of the earthquake like we saw in the movie,” Jones said.

Johnson recalls he discussed the concept of Ballers with Mark Wahlberg, also a producer of HBO’s Hollywood comedy-drama Entourage, when they filmed 2013 crime film Pain and Gain. It’s no coincidence that in addition to Wahlberg, he’s recruited Stephen Levinson and Rob Weiss from Entourage to produce and write Ballers. “The idea was to take Entourage and set it in the sports world,” he says. I get up at 4am, do my cardio and send out a silly Instagram video where I’m cussing at the machine.” The Rock is deciding whether to play hero or anti-hero Johnson, the son of a Samoan mother and an African-American father, had a difficult childhood. The Shakeout simulation estimated that five high-rise steel-frame buildings could collapse after cracks form in connections in the building’s skeleton.

But he maintains he got his fitness zeal from his father. “My dad was very strict, he was an athlete,” he says. “Even when I was a little kid, he’d say, ‘You have to eat to nourish the body and not to please the tongue.’ I was six years old! Naeim, the engineer, was critical of the film in making the earthquake so outlandishly over the top that viewers might throw up their hands and think there is nothing they can do to be prepared. That’s why my taste buds are boring.” Ballers, a prestigious cable TV project, is an indication of Johnson’s rising stock in the industry: “I’m in a good position today where the material I get is quality. I didn’t come from an acting background or a performing arts school.” Whatever the reception of Ballers, you get the feeling that Johnson is increasingly keen to distance himself from his celebrity roots.

I don’t take pictures of myself naked or anything like that.” Right now, there’s not much chance of him getting caught between The Rock and a hard place.

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