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Why Guy Ritchie's Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre Bombed At The Box Office

Despite years of buildup, Guy Ritchie's "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" turned out to be a major box office flop. That may be a surprise to some, as this spy blockbuster ostensibly had all the right pieces. It had major star power attached, including big names like Jason Statham and Aubrey Plaza. Ritchie himself had already built up a fanbase through previous productions like "The Man from UNCLE" and "Sherlock Holmes." To top it all off, it seemed from initial previews that the film would be keying into that mix of over-the-top thrills and wry comedy that has proven to be a winning formula for great action movie franchises like "Mission Impossible" and "Fast & Furious." 

Despite all these winning ingredients, however, the movie has struggled to make back its $50 million budget, pulling in just $34 million during both its international and domestic debuts. In order to understand why "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" ended up failing as it did, it's necessary to look at a variety of factors that likely contributed. There's a lot of elements to parse through on that front, from some unfortunate pre-release marketing materials, to a bizarre rollout strategy, to a questionable level of quality regarding the movie itself.

Operation Fortune was mired in a spot of pre-release controversy

The marketing campaign for "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" kicked into gear well over a year before it would eventually release, but those early materials for the movie ended up having some unfortunate — though unintended — consequences. The first trailer for "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" premiered in December 2021, and it included a line that end up taking on a far more controversial light as a result of the real-world events that ensued in the following months.

In the trailer, Statham's lead character makes reference to the group of Ukrainian gang members who serve as the main antagonistic force of the movie. This line didn't age particularly well when, just several months later, Russia commenced its invasion of Ukraine. Having a film that marketed Ukrainians as villains at a time when many were expressing real-world solidarity with the nation landed the movie in an uncomfortable position. Unfortunately, this controversy would ultimately lead to something of a domino effect in terms of "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre's" pre-release issues.

The film engaged in a temporary disappearing act

With the subject matter for "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" proving to be poorly timed with the ongoing issue of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the film was quickly and quietly wiped from its then-planned release date in March 2022. What followed was an extended period of silence on the film. For months, there were no new trailers and no official updates on when the movie would be released — if at all. The only buzz surrounding the project were rumors in outlets like The Daily Mail that the movie was being edited to not emphasize the villainous group of Ukrainians' nationality.

Viewers who had been excited for the release of the movie spent much of this downtime puzzled by what had happened to such a high-profile project that once seemed on-track to be one of the best action movies of 2022. "I was so excited for this film, then it just disappeared from the face of the earth," one Reddit user commented in May 2022. Of course, having a lengthy span of time where an upcoming production has next to nothing in the way of advertising isn't a recipe for success. Even stranger, however, is what was next for "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" when it finally did re-emerge.

It dropped without much warning

When the time came for "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" to come back into the picture after its absence for much of 2022, it didn't return with a major marketing campaign. Instead, it just went ahead and released. The film made its theatrical debut without much buildup in early January 2023 across several international territories, with the United States following suit in March. What's more, the film is set to immediately be available on-demand in the United Kingdom as part of Amazon Prime Video in April.

This abrupt release schedule for "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" may be due to some other behind-the-scenes troubles with the movie in addition to the aforementioned factors. Per a report from Deadline, one of the film's original distributors, STX, ran into some trouble in late 2022 and went all-but-defunct. As a result, "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" spent several months trapped within the stable of STX's orphaned movies before Lionsgate opted to pick up distribution duties for the flick. Once the movie had been released by bank lienholders, Lionsgate ensured its theatrical release as soon as possible. That left the movie without a traditional advertising run-up, giving it little leverage during a release window occupied by massive movies like the box office knockout "Creed 3" and "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania."

Critical reception wasn't great

A rocky pre-release path is a valid part of explaining why "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" was one of the bigger box office bombs of 2023, but many of these issues may have been rendered negligible if the final product itself had proven to be up to standard. Unfortunately, the film hasn't been setting the world on fire since it debuted in terms of critical reception, and it doesn't seem like that outlook is likely to change any time soon.

"Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" maintains a 52 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, falling into the "Rotten" category of movies with mixed to negative reception from critics. Particular criticism has been leveled at the film's lackluster action sequences, barebones characters, and tendency to fall into formulaic action movie tropes. While some may nonetheless find themselves compelled to watch the project, reviews generally haven't done it any favors in terms of putting the movie on more would-be viewers' radars.