San Andreas movie box office: $100 million domestic milestone today
As the old saying (sort of) goes: If you build it, they will come. Warner Bros. built a gigantic video game, called it San Andreas, and They have come to check out Dwayne Johnson perform miraculous deeds not seen since … George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, released two weeks earlier.
Embraced by moviegoers, hungry for quality, original storylines and well-delineated characters – and with the assistance of 3D surcharges – the San Andreas movie debuted with $54.58 million from 3,777 theaters on its first weekend out (May 29-31) in North America. Down a perfectly acceptable 52 percent on its second weekend (June 5-7), the special effects-laden actioner collected an extra $25.83 million, trailing only the Melissa McCarthy-Jason Statham comedy Spy, (with $29.08 million) as found at boxofficemojo.com.
And that’s how this original movie – it’s not officially a remake, and it’s not even based on a comic strip, video game, or toy – will be reaching the $100 million milestone at the U.S. and Canada box office sometime today, Monday, June 8.
International box office trembles
Now, San Andreas’ domestic box office is (sort of) peanuts compared to its international take, where the Brad Peyton-directed cinematic catastrophe has raked in close to (an estimated) $158 million – $51 million of which in China alone, where the film opened last week.
As found at Deadline.com, San Andreas’ top international markets to date are:
- Mexico with $21.3 million.
- The U.K. with $12.9 million.
- Russia with $9.15 million.
- Brazil with $7.5 million.
- South Korea with $7.25 million.
- France with $5.25 million.
- Australia with $4.8 million.
- Argentina with $4.3 million.
Once again, movies such as San Andreas get made – with a(n official) price tag of $110 million (not including marketing and distribution expenses) – because of the international market.
Even taking into account the Hollywood studios’ usually less generous cut of their films’ international grosses, the majors wouldn’t be able to take the risk of investing nine figures on a movie if all they could count on were the American and Canadian markets.
Nowadays, mega-budget Hollywood movies like San Andreas are greenlit thanks to moviegoers in Shanghai, Mexico City, London, Moscow, and Seoul.
Dwayne Johnson: Recent box office hits
Dwayne Johnson has two major 2015 international blockbusters to his credit. Besides San Andreas, back in April Johnson was one of the stars in James Wan’s Fast Seven, one of the movies in the seemingly endless Fast and Furious franchise also featuring Vin Diesel and the late Paul Walker. Fast Seven has taken in $1.51 billion worldwide – of which a relatively modest $350 million in the U.S. and Canada.
What should be noted, however, is that movies such as San Andreas and Fast Seven would have been global hits with just about any actor in the lead. After all, Dwayne Johnson has hardly been a major box office draw when not assisted by myriad stunts – like Hercules, a bomb in North America, but a hit elsewhere – and/or by mind-numbing (and tympanum-exploding) visual and sound effects.
San Andreas movie cast
Besides Dwayne Johnson – totally in control no matter what (John Wayne would have been literally shaking in his pants), but not nearly as cool as Geneviève Bujold (see editor’s comments below) – the 2015 San Andreas movie features the following:
Carla Gugino. Alexandra Daddario. Ioan Gruffudd. Archie Panjabi. Academy Award nominee Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man). Hugo Johnstone-Burt. Art Parkinson. Will Yun Lee. Kylie Minogue. Colton Haynes. Todd Williams. Cameo by Ken Watanabe.
The San Andreas screenplay – yes, the film actually does have a script – is credited to Carlton Cuse (the TV series The Returned, Bates Motel, Lost), from a story by The Prince and Vice scribes Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore (also of Red Dawn).
Not that long ago, San Andreas director Brad Peyton worked with Dwayne Johnson on Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012). The somewhat surprisingly successful fantasy adventure also featured Vanessa Hudgens, Josh Hutcherson, Michael Caine, Luis Guzmán, and Kristin Davis.
Among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics, San Andreas has a surprisingly high 47 percent approval rating. That’s 47 percent, not 4.7 percent. And that says more about the state of film criticism – and/or about the state of Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics” label – than about the film’s intrinsic qualities.
Having said that, perhaps the critics are being kind for a reason. After all, a movie like San Andreas will undeniably leave Californians feeling uplifted following years of enduring one of the worst economic crises in the state’s history and its very worst drought ever recorded.
San Andreas reminds everyone, whether in California and elsewhere, that things could always be worse. Much worse.
Note from the editor: As the old saying (sort of) goes, “If you destroy it, they will come.” Deadly, cataclysmic earthquakes have always been family-friendly (and box office friendly) movie fun. That goes back to at least Old San Francisco, a 1927 silent film directed by Alan Crosland (The Jazz Singer) and starring Dolores Costello (Drew Barrymore’s grandmother).
Since then, there have been major earthquake sequences in movies – including made-for-TV fare – as varied as:
- Frisco Jenny (1933).
Director: William A. Wellman.
Cast: Ruth Chatterton. Louis Calhern. Helen Jerome Eddy. Donald Cook. James Murray.
- San Francisco (1936). One of the decade’s top blockbusters.
Director: W.S. Van Dyke.
Cast: Clark Gable. Jeanette MacDonald. Spencer Tracy.
- The Sisters (1938).
Director: Anatole Litvak.
Cast: Bette Davis. Errol Flynn. Anita Louise. Ian Hunter. Donald Crisp. Beulah Bondi. Jane Bryan. Lee Patrick.
- The Rains Came (1939).
Director: Clarence Brown.
Cast: Tyrone Power. Myrna Loy. George Brent. Brenda Joyce. Maria Ouspenskaya. Nigel Bruce. Joseph Schildkraut.
- Green Dolphin Street (1947).
Director: Victor Saville.
Cast: Lana Turner. Donna Reed. Van Heflin. Richard Hatch. Frank Morgan. Edmund Gwenn. Dame May Whitty. Gladys Cooper. Reginald Owen. Linda Christian.
- The Rains of Ranchipur (1955).
Director: Jean Negulesco.
Cast: Richard Burton. Lana Turner. Fred MacMurray. Michael Rennie. Joan Caulfield. Eugenie Leontovich.
- Short Cuts (1993).
Director: Robert Altman.
Cast: Julianne Moore. Anne Archer. Matthew Modine. Madeleine Stowe. Andie MacDowell. Bruce Davison. Jennifer Jason Leigh. Jack Lemmon. Tim Robbins. Peter Gallagher. Lyle Lovett. Robert Downey Jr. Buck Henry. Chris Penn. Lily Tomlin. Lili Taylor. Lori Singer. Tom Waits. Annie Ross. Frances McDormand. Huey Lewis. Robert DoQui.
- Aftershock: Earthquake in New York (1999, TV movie).
Director: Mikael Salomon.
Cast: Tom Skerritt. Sharon Lawrence. Charles S. Dutton. Jennifer Garner. Lisa Nicole Carson. Rachel Ticotin. Frederick Weller.
- Frisco Jenny (1933).
From San Francisco to New Zealand
Following in the cinematic footsteps of Old San Francisco, Frisco Jenny, Best Picture Academy Award nominee San Francisco, and The Sisters all feature the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. (See and hear Lee Patrick’s hair-raising scream as her – and Bette Davis’ – apartment building comes crumbling down in The Sisters.)
Based on Louis Bromfield’s novel, The Rains Came and its remake, The Rains of Ranchipur, are set in India, where locals and English colonialists experience not only a cataclysmic earthquake but also an equally cataclysmic flood.
Eight years before starring in The Rains of Ranchipur, Lana Turner had the lead in Green Dolphin Street, a huge box office hit partly thanks to an earthquake sequence that devastates a 19th-century New Zealand town. For their efforts, A. Arnold Gillespie, Warren Newcombe, Michael Steinore, and Douglas Shearer (Norma Shearer’s brother), won that year’s Academy Award for Best Special Effects (visual / sound).
Robert Altman’s all-star comedy-drama Short Cuts is set in late 20th century Los Angeles, where earthquakes are just another inconvenience in everybody’s dysfunctional lives.
The Emmy-nominated (in the Visual Effects category) TV movie Aftershock: Earthquake in New York, for its part, offered a novelty: denizens of the U.S.’s largest city find themselves dancing to a different earth beat.
And of course, let’s not forget Mark Robson’s concisely titled – and both hilarious and cringe-inducing – Earthquake (1974), in which, long before San Andreas, Los Angeles was eviscerated. In the prestigious cast:
Charlton Heston. Ava Gardner. Geneviève Bujold. Lloyd Nolan. Lorne Greene. Barry Sullivan. George Kennedy. Marjoe Gortner. Richard Roundtree. Victoria Principal. Monica Lewis. Gabriel Dell. Lloyd Gough. John Randolph. Pedro Armendáriz Jr. Donald Moffat. Walter Matthau.
Considering the lack of “prestigious” names in San Andreas, it’s a bit surprising they couldn’t find a surviving (and willing) Earthquake cast member to appear in a cameo for old times’ sake.
For the record, without the assistance of 3D surcharges, Earthquake – aided instead by its widely publicized (and short-lived) Sensurround technology – grossed $79.66 million. That’s the equivalent of approx. $342 million today.
 Unfortunately, Box Office Mojo has lost quite a bit of its luster of late. The site, which used to be extremely detailed in its reporting, has been offering fewer updated and/or complete box office data.
Of note, Ray Subers left the IMDb-owned Box Office Mojo about two weeks ago. Subers had been their box office guru for five and half years.
San Andreas cast information via the IMDb.
Dwayne Johnson San Andreas movie images: Warner Bros.
Dwayne Johnson taking command in the San Andreas trailer: Warner Bros.