FROM MTV MOVIES: As observers of both Hollywood and United States national security have noted, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been enjoying a pretty incredible last few days. He apparently learned about Osama bin Laden's death hours before the rest of us and hinted about the news on Twitter ("Just got word that will shock the world," he wrote). Monday is his 39th birthday. Oh, and his new action flick, "Fast Five," opened to $83.6 million in ticket sales — not the biggest debut of the year but Universal's largest opening since "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" in 1997.
As remarkable as Johnson's national security sources are, perhaps even more impressive is how well "Fast Five" performed at the box office a decade after "The Fast and the Furious" first hit the multiplex. Franchises tend to max out their public good will after two or three installments, but with this new picture, there can be little doubt that the "Fast and Furious" series has joined the likes of "Die Hard" in the pop-culture establishment. Much of the credit goes to Vin Diesel, industry insiders point out.
"Like Sly Stallone as Rambo, Bruce Willis as John McClane and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator, Diesel embodies the role of Dom Toretto, fusing his public persona with his fictional character, and in doing so making him an action icon," said Jeff Bock, box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. "Simply put, in the pantheon of action studs, Diesel is now immortalized as Dom."