San Andreas, the disaster blockbuster starring action movie star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, leveled the box office this weekend opening to a staggering $53 million.
TIME's Justin Worland reports that despite tepid to harsh critique, the earthquake flick took the top spot at theaters this weekend largely due to the magnetic star power of the film's lead Johnson, and trumped the second place film Pitch Perfect 2 by a margin of almost $40 million.
The unexpected triumph of San Andreas marks the top box office opening weekend for Johnson since the former pro wrestling star's highly promoted appearance in 2001's The Mummy Returns, not counting the Fast & The Furious film franchise in which Johnson has appeared in the last three. Fandango chief correspondent spoke to USA Today's Bryan Alexander about the significance for Johnson of the success of San Andreas.
"It took a natural disaster to create a career highlight for Dwayne Johnson. He's now scored his biggest opening weekend as a solo star."Deadline's Nancy Tartaglione reports that San Andreas also enjoyed a $60 million international take at the overseas box office in 60 markets, taking the No. 1 spot in 55 of those markets, meaning that San Andreas has already topped $100 million in its opening weekend.
In San Andreas, Johnson stars as a rescue helicopter pilot who, while estranged from his wife and under the threat of losing her and his daughter, is thrust into a scenario whereby a massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami force him to battle against the odds to save his daughter's life and hopefully reunite his family.
As Johnson's box office stock continues to rise, and with the success of the critically panned San Andreas providing proof positive to Johnson's theatrical drawing power, Johnson's profile also continues to rise. Aside from already being confirmed for the next in the Fast & Furious film series, Johnson is poised to enter the massive popularity of the comic book film universe when he assumes the role of Black Adam in DC Comics' Shazam!, where Johnson's role will change from hero to supervillain.
Rounding out the top five films at the box office this weekend were Disney's Tomorrowland, which added $13.8 million to its still disappointing total, Mad Max: Fury Road, which earned $13.6 million, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, which added $10.9 million to its staggering $1.282 billion overall take, placing it sixth on the all time box office earners list.