Dwayne Johnson Looks Back On ‘Southland Tales’ Bombing Big At His 2006 Cannes Debut: ‘Disastrous Is An Understatement’

A re-examination of the 2006 box-office bomb “Southland Tales” led Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to take a stroll down memory lane, with the former WWE superstar recalling making his Cannes debut thanks to his role in the film.

On Wednesday, Johnson retweeted a link to a podcast featuring the film’s director, Richard Kelly, asking, “Is ‘Southland Tales’ misunderstood prophecy?”

In his tweet, the “Hobbs & Shaw” star, 47, recalled the film’s reception at Cannes. “Disastrous is an understatement,” he wrote while displaying his optimistic tendency to find a silver lining in the worst of situations.

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“I’m grateful for the few hard earned career lessons I learned in Cannes in 2006,” he added. “But art can be a wild and funny thing years later as it perception changes its reality.”

Set in a futuristic 2008, “Southland Tales” stars Johnson as Boxer Santaros, a big-screen action star stricken with amnesia, who encounters a former porn star who happens to be psychic (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and a cop (Seann William Scott) as the world teeters on the brink of annihilation as international tensions escalate after a nuclear attack in Texas.

The film, a followup to Kelly’s 2001 cult hit “Donnie Darko”, was savaged by critics, with the late Roger Ebert describing the film as “one of the most confusing, ridiculous, pretentious and disastrous cinematic train wrecks I’ve ever seen.”

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While Kelly’s nightmarish vision of a future America in “Southland Tales” now seems eerily prescient, the film received a terrible reception when it premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.

“I took it in the gut,” Johnson recalled of his Cannes experience in an interview with IndieWire earlier this year. “We all went into that movie having so much trust, and a script that was complex and interesting. When the screening ended, we were all on our Blackberries at that time, and our publicists were like, sweating. We had to walk from there directly to our press conference. We sit down in the press conference and someone was like, ‘They f**king hated the movie. So just be prepared.’”

He added: “We sit down and the first question, I’ll never forget, is a journalist standing up and saying, ‘I’ve got to be honest with you, I’ve never seen so many people walking out of a movie.’”

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The reception at the box office was no less catastrophic; according to Box Office Mojo, “Southland Tales” grossed a mere $275,380 in its theatrical release.

 

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