Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is an actor the film press loves to cover, but not only because he generates clicks and is a good interview: He’s also one of the savviest businessmen in terms of managing a personal brand in the business right now, so watching his moves is a great way to read the tea leaves of the film industry.
Case in point: In case you were wondering – for some reason – whether The Rock (or “his people”) had seen and/or had any opinion on PIXELS (the Adam Sandler oldschool-video-game-invasion action/comedy)? The answer(s) would appear to be “Yes” and “They think it’s going to be a huge hit” – Johnson has signed on for an adaptation of the arcade classic RAMPAGE.
I’d like to get excited about this. If we’re to have video-game movies, I’d much rather see conceptually-interesting material like this (RAMPAGE was “about” a trio of people who mutate into Kaiju-scale gorilla, dinosaur and wolfman monsters and destroy cities) than, say, ASSASSIN’S CREED which – spoiler! – is probably just going to look/feel like a pretty okay (if we’re lucky) action movie once you take the interactivity away. But the problem with The Rock as a driving force behind any project is that he’s looking for big hits – period; which means you’re usually going to get the safest, most test-market-approved version of the premise possible as opposed to the kind of mischievous weirdness that permeated the original game.
Project already has a screenplay, the plot of which is being kept secret for some reason. The game “starred” humans who turned into the monsters, but given that Johnson (and the studio) probably don’t want to hide the marketable big-star under makeup or CGI you can almost-certainly bet that won’t be The Rock’s part. More likely, George, Lizzie and Ralph will be downgraded to villains/co-stars in their own movie, with Johnson as the guy trying to stop/manage the titular rampage. Or not, who can really say?
Not that anyone cares, but if I was pitching a RAMPAGE movie? Broad, bad-taste genre-comedy (think TED but scaled down to a REN & STIMPY-ish PG-13). Cast a “name” male/female comic pairing (think maybe Seth Rogan/Sarah-Silverman) as George and Lizzie, unwittingly turned into giant monsters who then go on the run. They bicker, they get over it, they work together, ultimately they have to fight bad-monster Ralph (the giant wolfman) and maybe somehow turn back (or not.) Save money by leaning on the obvious Godzilla parallels re: pop-culture’s collective knowledge that Godzilla = guys fighting in monster costumes and using just-cheezy-enough kaiju suits and miniatures (or maybe the suits are suit-looking but the backgrounds are real/realistic would be a more interesting look?) instead of blowing the FX budget. Mandatory: Keep the naughty/scatalogical sense of humor from the games, including a “money shot” of a skyscraper being “taken out” by asteroid-sized flung gorilla poop.