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The Real Reason Bloodshot Bombed At The Box Office

Even Vin Diesel can't win 'em all.

His starring vehicle Bloodshot, based on the Valiant Comics property of the same name, recently landed in theaters with a dull thud. The Sony/Columbia Pictures effort never claimed the top spot at the box office over its short, brutal run, proving that it takes more than simmering star power (which, admittedly, Diesel has in spades) to make a hit picture.

The flick centers on U.S. Marine Ray Garrison, who is brutally murdered along with his wife, only to be revived with cutting edge nanotech to become the titular hero. The modestly-budgeted $45 million flick failed to even clear $25 million at the worldwide box office, making it a super-flop of the first order — and even in a singularly harsh box office environment (which we'll get to shortly), that kind of nosedive for a Vin Diesel-led comic book film is nothing short of astonishing.

Of course, Bloodshot had a number of things working against it from the outset, any one of which might have conceivably put a huge dent in the flick's receipts. As it happened, though, the movie was met with a perfect storm of nope — a convergence of factors which combined to guarantee that it would be dead on arrival in theaters. Here's why Bloodshot bombed at the box office.

Bloodshot is not a very well-known property

Now is a pretty good time to be in the business of making superhero films — that is, if you happen to be Marvel Studios or DC Films. Even the latter studio has had a bit of a rocky road of late, with February's Margot Robbie-starring Birds of Prey turning in a surprisingly weak performance — and that film was centered on an absolute icon in Harley Quinn. The character of Bloodshot, by contrast, is not terribly well-known — and even though the film had one of the biggest action stars in the world in the role, the presence of Diesel just didn't seem to be enough to make casual moviegoers care.

Now, making comic book films focused on lesser-known properties isn't always a terrible idea. Exhibit A: Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel, which centered on a bunch of characters who were literally unknown to all but a small subset of comic fans before writer-director James Gunn turned their 2014 starring vehicle into freakin' magic (and which notably featured Diesel as the voice of Groot). The character of Bloodshot, though, is simply a tech-enhanced super-soldier with a tragic backstory, which frankly is the kind of thing we've seen in countless films before.

Of course, if the film had been imbued with loads of personality, or offered some kind of fresh take on the genre, or even just been super-efficient as an adrenaline delivery system, its box office fortunes might have been different. Unfortunately, according to the vast majority of critics, the flick just wasn't very good.

Bloodshot got brutal reviews

Those critics uniformly took Bloodshot apart, piling on it with colorful disses that were, by and large, more fun to read than the movie was to watch. Our favorite examples: "The copycat flourishes and cliched foundations of the bio-engineered banality featured in Diesel's vanity film project will make one's weary eyes reflect this indulgent action thriller's movie title," wrote Frank Ochieng of Flick Feast. "Having your characters self-consciously point out every cliché doesn't magically erase the fact your film is full of clichés," deadpanned CNET's Richard Trenholm. And for the win, channeling his website's namesake, Odie Henderson of RogerEbert.com: "The action sequences look like they were edited by a Cuisinart."

When your film is taking barbs like this from all directions, it usually doesn't bode well for its box office fortunes — but big, dumb action flicks like Bloodshot can sometimes weather the critical storm and find their audiences. Unfortunately, Diesel's flick just happened to hit theaters at a time when, due to circumstances far beyond anyone's control, there were pretty much no audiences to speak of.

Bloodshot was no match for the coronavirus

Bloodshot was released on March 13, right about the time that the general public was starting to come around to the reality of just how serious the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus was. In fact, just two days prior to its release, the World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic — and while a goodly number of Americans declined to listen to the advice of the experts and stay home, even more of them got the message that it maybe wasn't the best time for a night out at the movies.

Of course, since then, Sony has tried to mitigate the dismal performance of Bloodshot by making it available to VOD services before its theatrical run has technically even ended — but this is certain to be too little, too late for a movie that never had a chance. Even if it had been an awesome flick featuring a well-known character that enjoyed stellar reviews, it's exceedingly likely that it still wouldn't have made back its budget in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. As it stands, Bloodshot is dead in the water — and all the nanotech in the world isn't gonna help.