Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has earned the Hollywood nickname “Franchise Viagra” for his ability to enter a franchise of diminishing returns and help drag it back across the big profit goal-line (his late-to-the party-savior resume includes The Mummy, Journey to the Center of the Earth, G.I. Joe and yes, even the Fast & Furious franchise sputtered before The Rock could help piston-pump into the billion dollar realm). Sexy title aside, however, The Rock’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation co-star Channing Tatum has graduated into perhaps the most interesting and unlikely franchise star.
Tatum has starred in two films whose success wasn’t pre-packaged to make big bucks around the world by way of minimal dialogue, winks, and explosions. Tatum’s two franchise films were 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike. Mike was even his own embryonic indie-film-that-could (Magic Mike only cost only $7 million to make; it earned $167.2 million domestic, and even spawned a Las Vegas show. The story itself was loosely based on Tatum’s own career shift from roofer to male stripper). Both of those films got sequels. And 22 Jump Street took a dangerously meta-route by skewering sequel (and corporate) culture at large. It paid off, as not only one of the best reviewed sequels of all time, but it also earned more than the original, the only real measuring stick for execs when it comes to sequels.