Baywatch is a 2017 American action comedy film directed by Seth Gordon and based on the television series of the same name. Written by Mark Swift and Damian Shannon, the film stars Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Jon Bass, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach and Priyanka Chopra. The plot follows lifeguard Mitch Buchannon and his team, who in an effort to save their beach have to take down a drug lord.
Principal photography began on February 22, 2016, in Florida and Savannah, Georgia. The film was released in the United States on May 25, 2017, by Paramount Pictures, grossed $177 million worldwide and received negative reviews from critics, with criticism for its crude humor, storyline, and character development, but did receive some praise for its cast. Baywatch received four nominations at the 38th Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Picture and Worst Actor for Efron.
In Emerald Bay, Florida, Lt. Mitch Buchannon and his team of lifeguards, including second-in-command Stephanie Holden and veteran C. J. Parker, protect the beaches and the bay as part of an elite division known as Baywatch. Having made over 500 rescues in his career, Mitch is beloved by the community, to the annoyance of local beat cop Garner Ellerbee and Mitch’s superior, Captain Thorpe. During one of his morning patrols, Mitch discovers a small pouch of flakka drug washed up near the Huntley Club, which is now under the ownership of businesswoman Victoria Leeds, who has been secretly bribing city councilman Rodriguez and others in efforts to increase her stake in the bay.
At the tryouts for prospective lifeguards, three people stand out: surfer Summer Quinn, an old friend of Holden’s; Ronnie, a chubby computer nerd with a crush on C. J.; and Matt Brody, a former Olympic gold medal swimmer who fell from grace to grass after vomiting during a relay race. Summer and Ronnie both pass the trials, but Brody refuses to participate, insisting his Olympic status and recommendation letter entitles him to have a place on the team. Mitch challenges Brody on a course of the former’s choosing, but a drowning woman and her kids interrupt the challenge and they rush to save her. Mitch learns Brody has to perform community service as part of an unspecified plea deal, and that Thorpe insists rehabilitating Brody’s image is necessary to convince the city not to further cut Baywatch’s funding.
When a private yacht catches fire, Brody disobeys orders and dives directly under the flames, causing Holden and C. J. to have to save him. The occupants are evacuated, except for the deceased councilman Rodriguez. Ellerbee disapproves of Mitch’s further investigative actions. Mitch and the gang attend a party held by Leeds to look for more evidence but without much luck as Brody makes a fool of himself getting drunk. Mitch, Brody, and Summer later infiltrate the city morgue, where they record two of Leeds’ men planting a falsified autopsy report to cover up the fact that Rodriguez was murdered on her orders. Unfortunately, they are discovered, and though Mitch manages to subdue and capture one of them, the recording is destroyed and Ellerbee is forced to release their suspect on a lack of evidence. Angered, Thorpe threatens to fire Mitch if he oversteps his authority again.
Convinced that Leeds is running drugs out of the Huntley, Mitch and Brody go undercover and sneak into the club kitchen, where they witness her workers retrieving the drugs from barrels of fish and processing them. They contact Ellerbee, only to learn that another body has been found on the beach. Thorpe, enraged that Mitch essentially deserted his post, fires him and names Brody as the new lieutenant. Brody accepts the job reluctantly, and Mitch takes a job as a cellphone salesman.
After finding another pouch of flakka on the beach, Brody steals the second victim’s report from Ellerbee and brings it to Summer, who confirms his suspicion that the man was murdered. Ronnie, upon recognizing the victim as his friend Dave, helps Brody hack into Leeds’ servers, revealing her plan to privatize the entire beach by systematically buying out or eliminating every competing business owner.
The team infiltrates a private party on Leeds’ personal yacht, discovering how she’s been using the hull to smuggle the drugs. Brody is captured and placed in a bait cage to be drowned, and a gloating Leeds reveals that she bribed the corrupt Thorpe to set Mitch up so he could justify firing him before pushing the cage into the water. Just before Brody drowns, Mitch appears and saves him. The two catch up to Leeds, while Ronnie and C. J. launch fireworks to prevent her escape helicopter from landing. Just as they run out, a wounded Mitch, having intentionally stung himself with a sea urchin to boost his adrenaline, uses a Roman candle to blow Leeds up, saving Brody once again. Ellerbee arrives and takes Leeds’ henchmen into custody, apologizing to Mitch for doubting him. Thorpe arrives and begins to berate Mitch for returning to the beach. In response, Brody punches Thorpe in the face. Thorpe is subsequently arrested for his role in Leeds’ plan.
In the aftermath, Ronnie and Brody begin relationships with C.J. and Summer respectively. Mitch, having been reinstated, formally inducts Summer, Ronnie, and Brody into Baywatch and introduces them to their new captain, Casey Jean (Pamela Anderson).
Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon
Zac Efron as Matt Brody
Priyanka Chopra as Victoria Leeds
Alexandra Daddario as Summer Quinn
Jon Bass as Ronnie Greenbaum
Hannibal Buress as Dave the Tech
Kelly Rohrbach as C.J. Parker
Ilfenesh Hadera as Stephanie Holden
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Sgt. Ellerbee
Oscar Nunez as Councilman Rodriguez
Rob Huebel as Captain Thorpe
Amin Joseph as Frankie
Jack Kesy as Leon
Pamela Anderson as Casey Jean Parker
David Hasselhoff as The Mentor
A Baywatch movie was first announced in 2004, although the movie became stuck in development hell over the years, with multiple writers penning drafts. In July 2015, Sean Anders was replaced by Seth Gordon as director. On October 2, 2014, Dwayne Johnson was attached to star in the lead role, and Justin Malen was set to rewrite the script. Damian Shannon and Mark Swift wrote the latest draft, and the film would be comedic in style. On August 10, 2015, Zac Efron signed on to star in the film, and Beau Flynn and Ivan Reitman joined to produce with Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions. On November 9, 2015, Deadline reported that seven actresses were among the short list testing for the lead female role, Alexandra Daddario, Ashley Benson, Nina Dobrev, Alexandra Shipp, Shelley Hennig, Bianca A. Santos, and Denyse Tontz. On November 18, 2015, Johnson confirmed Daddario would play Summer, a lifeguard, and the love interest of Efron’s character.
On January 4, 2016, Kelly Rohrbach’s casting as C. J. Parker was confirmed by Johnson’s Instagram post. Damian Shannon and Mark Swift wrote the screenplay, while the final list of producers were Johnson along with his partner Dany Garcia, through their Seven Bucks Productions, as well as Flynn, Reitman, Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, and Gregory J. Bonann. On January 20, 2016, Johnson again posted on his Instagram about casting Ilfenesh Hadera as Johnson’s love interest. On January 27, 2016, Jon Bass was cast in the film to play Ronnie, a funny, awkward, and skilled disco dancer at the beach, who falls in love with Parker. On February 12, 2016, Hannibal Buress joined the cast of the film to play a bay community local. On February 17, 2016, Priyanka Chopra signed on to star as the antagonist in the film. The role was originally written for a male. In March 2016, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II joined the cast as Ellerbee, a police officer who is constantly reminding Mitch that he has no real authority over the bay. On March 12, 2016, singer Belinda confirmed she would join the cast as an extra. Jack Kesy and Amin Joseph were also cast in the film. Vine star Logan Paul announced that he is in the film, but his scenes were later cut. Izabel Goulart also appeared. NFL players Vernon Davis and Arian Foster have cameo appearances in the film.
Principal photography on the film began on February 22, 2016, in Deerfield Beach, Florida, with the setting in Broward County, Florida, while the TV series was set in Malibu, California. The film was shot in Miami and Savannah, Georgia. In late March 2016, filming started in Tybee Island, Georgia.
In January 2016, Paramount Pictures scheduled Baywatch for a May 19, 2017 release, which was originally scheduled for a sequel to Terminator Genisys. In December 2016, Paramount pushed the release date back one week to May 26, 2017, to avoid competition with Alien: Covenant. In April 2017, the film was moved one day earlier, to avoid direct competition with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Baywatch grossed $58.1 million in the United States and Canada and $119.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $177.8 million, against a production budget of $69 million.
In the United States and Canada, the film was initially projected to gross around $40 million from 3,642 theaters over its five-day opening weekend, with the studio predicting a more conservative $30 million debut. It made $1.25 million at 2,554 theaters from Wednesday night previews, similar to fellow mid-week R-rated releases We’re the Millers ($1.7 million) and Let’s Be Cops ($1.2 million). However, after making $4.6 million on its opening day (including Wednesday night previews) and $5.7 million on Friday, five-day projections were lowered to $25 million. It ended up grossing $18.5 million in its opening weekend (for a five-day total of $27.7 million), finishing third at the box office, behind Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ($63 million) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($20.9 million). In its second weekend the film grossed $8.8 million (a drop of 52.5%), finishing 5th at the box office.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 18% based on 209 reviews, and an average rating of 4/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Baywatch takes its source material’s jiggle factor to R-rated levels, but lacks the original’s campy charm – and leaves its charming stars flailing in the shallows.” On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 37 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating “generally unfavorable reviews”. However, audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “B+” on an A+ to F scale. Dwayne Johnson responded to critics’ reviews on Twitter, saying the film was made for fans, who he said loved it.
Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers praised the cast while acknowledging his dislike for the film. Travers rated it two out of four stars and said, “Think of yourself sitting down for a big two-hour wallow in instant stupid with a vat of popcorn, slathered in fake butter and possibly a mound of melted M&Ms on top. It feels great chugging it down, then your stomach hurts, your head aches and you puke the whole thing up so you can forget about it in the morning. That’s Baywatch in a nutshell.” Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 1.5 out of 4 stars, writing: “As was the case with CHiPS, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Beverly Hillbillies, Car 54, Where Are You? and I’ll just stop there, when you make films from junk TV, more often than not you’re going to wind up with a junk movie.”
Baywatch was released on Digital HD on August 15, 2017 and on Blu-ray and DVD on August 29, 2017.
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