Failing to come close to studio and industry expectations, Paramount/Skydance’s "Baywatch" was a surprising box office flop this past weekend.
With a budget of approximately $68 million, its five day tally was only $26.6 million, while experts had expected it to haul in $42 million during the same time period.
While the film critic community has panned many projects that still end up performing well at the box office, this did not turn out to be the case for "Baywatch," which garnered a meager 18 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes website.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Zac Efron star in the big-screen reboot of the 1990s NBC hit TV show of the same name.
In the television version, the female lifeguards (especially Pamela Anderson) took center stage, which had the effect of drawing a large viewing audience, chiefly in the18 to 35 male demographic.
In contrast, the marketing of the movie reboot seemed to focus primarily on Johnson and Efron, with studio executives perhaps thinking that Johnson in particular would be a major draw for moviegoers since he is currently one of the most popular actors in Hollywood.
Initially there may have been smiles as Johnson, with his sizable social media following, began publicly floating the idea that he was considering a run for president. The entertainment media ran wild with the story as the buzz cycle culminated with appearances by the star on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" and "Saturday Night Live," (SNL) built around Johnson’s "presidential campaign."
In the past, Johnson has taken a politically even-handed approach in a possible attempt to please, as well as hold onto, a broad following of fans. He was a speaker at the Republican Convention in 2000, attended the Democratic National Convention the same year, and is currently a registered Independent.
However, the actor has made comments indicating his lack of fondness for President Donald Trump and suggesting that he had presidential aspirations of his own. This propelled the coverage of Johnson’s supposed presidential dreams into the anti-Trump media stratosphere.
At a time when the studio was seeking as much free publicity as possible, Johnson’s political ambitions were treated seriously by numerous media outlets including The Washington Post, The Washington Examiner, GQ, and Fox News. There was even a National Review cover story on the topic titled, "The Celebrity We Need."
In his interview with Fallon, Johnson seemed to take on of the identity of a political candidate more than an actor. "It’s so flattering," Johnson said. "And I think you have to question why. I think it’s because, you know, a lot of people want to see a different leadership today — I’m sorry, not different, but better leadership today, right? A better leadership. I think more poised, less noise."
Taking the opportunity of his SNL appearance to make the "formal" announcement of his candidacy, during the opening monologue he told Alec Baldwin (in his role as Trump impersonator) the following, "It’s funny, a lot of people have been telling me lately that I should run for president of the United States. It’s very flattering, but tonight I want to put this to rest and just say once and for all: I’m in. Starting tonight, I am running for president of the United States," Johnson said.
Johnson then quipped out a clear shot at the current president, saying, "In the past, I never would’ve considered running for president. I didn’t think I was qualified at all, but now I’m worried I’m too qualified."
The original "Baywatch" was actually canceled after its first season on NBC but continued through syndication to become one of the most-watched television shows in the world.
In addition to the female lifeguards, the show featured plotlines designed to appeal to a wide swath of viewers. David Hasselhoff’s character frequently doled out advice to his teenage son Hobie in kindhearted father and son scenes.
As studio heads ponder why the "Baywatch" movie version performed so poorly at the box office, they might consider discussing what the effect on the film’s debut was in having alienated 62 million potential moviegoers.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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