Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Admits Southland Tales Had a 'Disastrous' Cannes Debut in 2006
Roger Ebert wrote at the time that Southland Tales was met with plenty of boos at its Cannes debut
As the Cannes Film Festival carries on in France, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is reflecting on one of the event’s most infamous flops: Southland Tales.
The 2006 Richard Kelly film starred Johnson as an action star with amnesia who crosses paths with a psychic ex-porn star (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and a police officer (Seann William Scott) as the futuristic world around them is on the brink of disaster.
The movie, though unfinished, premiered at Cannes in 2006 to a reception so poor, Kelly was forced to go back and shorten the final cut.
“I was dazed, confused, bewildered, bored, affronted and deafened by the boos all around me,” Roger Ebert wrote at the time.
Johnson, 47, admitted the film was a bust on Twitter Wednesday as he retweeted a podcast with Kelly that called the film’s reception at Cannes “disastrous.”
“Disastrous is an understatement. I’m grateful for the few hard earned career lessons I learned in 2006. But art can be a wild and funny thing years later as its perception changes its reality,” the actor wrote.
It’s not the first time Johnson has weighed in on his experiences working on the film; he told IndieWire earlier this year that its poor reception — it has a 38 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes — “hurt.”
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“I took it in the gut. We all went into that movie having so much trust, and a script that was complex and interesting,” he said. “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 continued, “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.’”
Southland Tales, shot on a $17 million budget, ended up earning a paltry $275,000 at the box office after premiering in fewer than 50 theaters, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
PEOPLE’s review said that while Kelly’s visual effects were aplenty, “there’s no disguising that the emperor has no clothes.”
Meanwhile, at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, movies like Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood are having a much better go at things, with the director’s ninth film being praised as “brilliant” and “gorgeous.”