You'd be forgiven if you don't remember Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's 2006 sci-fi drama, Southland Tales. Despite boasting a star-studded lineup that included the likes of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seann William Scott, Mandy Moore, and Justin Timberlake, the film only grossed $375 thousand internationally against a reported $17 million budget. In addition to being a box-office disappointment, the critical reception was equally harsh.
Despite not having a finished cut, director Richard Kelly opted to debut the film at Cannes in 2006. The audience was merciless, recalls famed critic Roger Ebert, saying that the boos were deafening. He even described himself as being affronted by what he had just watched.
Johnson admitted the film was a bust on Twitter when he retweeted the LA Times' The Reel podcast that featured director Richard Kelly calling the film’s reception at Cannes “disastrous.”
Disastrous is an understatement. I’m grateful for the few hard earned career lessons I learned in Cannes in 2006. But art can be a wild and funny thing years later as its perception changes its reality. @JRichardKelly #SouthlandTales https://t.co/4oSxtQHlAJ— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) May 22, 2019
Earlier this year, Johnson told IndieWire that the experience "hurt."
“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."
“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."