Dwayne Johnson Won’t Win as President in 2020: ‘Baywatch’ bombs big as Hollywood struggles with conservative audiences

I’m having a little fun with Hollywood these days because it is fun to say “I told you so,” especially in this case. There was a time where all I wanted to do was be a film director, and I took great strides in taking my life I that direction.  But my idea of what a film director was came from the Golden Age of movie history—of the Walt Disney days when John Huston was still making pictures.  Clint Eastwood as a film director was someone I always admired and I studied shot by shot each of his films and of course all this work put me on Hollywood’s doorstep more than once.  But each time I was in that position I found out that Hollywood had a different idea of what a film director was and essentially what we ended up with was a bunch of unionized radicals with left winged politics who were on treasure hunts to be gained through box office receipts.  Nobody wanted to make the next Citizen Kane like I did—instead they wanted to make safe little comedies that were there today and gone tomorrow—but everyone got paid.  That wasn’t my kind of thing so I never got a foothold that mattered in that industry because I just couldn’t do the collectivist thing like many of these modern directors do—where they view themselves as collaborators all equally contributing to the success of a film.  For instance, Jim Cameron was one of the greats.  I used to love him, especially his work on the Abyss, Terminator, and the magnificent piece of film making called Titanic.  No body but Jim Cameron could have made Titanic—and people who have studied the difficulties of that film know what I’m talking about.  That was always my idea of a film director.  So it is fun for me to see how right I was when I came into conflict with people, producers, financiers, and actors who thought they knew better than I did on how to make a great movie.  They were in the business, I was an outsider—and they assumed they were more qualified to make decisions on millions and millions of dollars of financial investment.  Turns out, they were so wrong and I’m rather enjoying it.

This is important because the same idiots who thought that making a movie out of Baywatch with Dwayne Johnson was a good idea are the same who think that The Rock—the same actor from Baywatch would be able to run for president against Trump in 2020. When Baywatch only made $27,605,514 over the Memorial Day weekend everyone seemed surprised even as the entire film industry went after the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie in a negative way but it made nearly $300,000 million worldwide over just four days.  Baywatch had such little worldwide appeal that it didn’t even show up on their global numbers—so what were the producers of Baywatch thinking at Paramount Studios?  I mean this is all these people do for a living and they made such a terrible decision.  They should all be fired.

I remember all the fuss about Jerry Bruckheimer’s relationship with Disney after the dismal failure of The Lone Ranger—which business wise at least recovered much of its initial investment. Baywatch won’t even come close. The Lone Ranger was a pretty good movie and was successful related to its budget.  It didn’t make a billion dollars which was what Disney was hoping for but it wasn’t a flop by any measure.   For all that, Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney parted ways except for this remaining Dead Men Tell Know Tales movie leaving the franchise in limbo.  Hollywood doesn’t like Bruckheimer essentially because he’s a conservative even though he has made them all al lot of money and kept them employed for a number of years. Baywatch is what will be considered a dismal failure at the box office not even coming close to its production budget after the first weekend with loads of competition slatted in front of it, namely Wonder Woman by Warner Bros.  It won’t last long and the drop off will be severe by the time Father’s Day rolls around. But the entertainment press won’t say much about this failure because they want Dwayne Johnson to run for president and they don’t want the fact that his name doesn’t put people’s butts in seats to get in the way of their illusion. People do not see Dwayne Johnson movies to see The Rock and all his muscles the way they used to see Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford.  People go to Dwayne Johnson movies only to see the action plots he’s in.  Put him in a regular movie and ask him to carry the interest of Midwest Americans and he can’t do it—especially now that he’s labeled himself as a liberal with the potential to run against Trump.

So yeah, I took a little pleasure in seeing all the idiots who put their bets behind Baywatch fail because it is endemic of the entire entertainment industry to make such mistakes.  I mean who in their right mind would think that a 20-year-old television show was going to translate well to the big screen?  I can’t think of too many that were successful in any capacity especially one that featured bikini clad women in a time before porn was commonplace online.  Who cares to pay big money to see Baywatch on the big screen when porn is accessible on any handheld device? Anybody who thought Baywatch was going to attract people willing to pay the high price of a movie ticket for a television remake was just out of their mind.

Another interesting thing to consider is how well Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales did in oversea markets—performing above expectations—especially in China, and Russia.  While Baywatch is a regional film about concerns people only in California might find funny, the new Pirates film was entertaining to a global audience even crossing language barriers.  The themes of Baywatch are those of first world worries whereas the concerns of Pirates are more primal—reconciliation with the father, superstitions, and the basics of romance, treasure hunting and immortality. Baywatch was concerned with getting laid, Pirates with getting wealthy and living a free pirate’s life at all costs. And I’d forgive Baywatch for forgoing all motivations of profit and forgetting about the audience who was going to see their movie if I thought there was any trace of such nobility—but clearly the producers of this major flop thought they were going to get rich off a used up old rag and it was insulting to see that they had so little regard for the movie going public that they didn’t put any more thought into it than they did.  It is because of people like that which is why I’m not in that business.  They are just idiots with money in their pockets and stupid ideas that should never be put to film which shows no respect for the money they are working with in budgets.

There are lots of ways to be successful in life and I certainly didn’t need the film industry to find my own way. But I always did have a genuine love for storytelling that would have been nice to have aligned with my propensity for profit.  It’s no skin off my back, but I do enjoy watching people I warned long ago—but didn’t listen, to see them struggling now.  Yes, I did tell them so, and they thought their industry was too big to fail.  As a whole, Hollywood is on life support.  Only a few movies carry the whole industry—and that’s not nearly enough to hold up over the coming years. Hollywood needs to reinvent itself from the ground up—and Baywatch is the proof of it.   Dwayne Johnson cannot pack a movie theater and he certainly won’t be able to carry the Democratic ticket for the presidency in 2020.   When a good movie does come out, I do write about it, and support it because film, like books, music and good television is a powerful way to expand our culture.  But movies like Baywatch are just rip-offs meant to make money off bored people—and I think it’s disgusting—especially when they are sold with a straight face and the potential of a presidential run.

Rich Hoffman

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