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The Real Reason Snake Eyes Bombed At The Box Office

It's been quite some time since the world saw a "G.I. Joe" adventure on the big screen, with the Dwayne Johnson-led "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" arriving back in 2013 and making $375 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo). The action-thriller wasn't a disappointment, but it also wasn't a rip-roaring success, so the future of the Paramount-owned franchise has been uncertain — although a third film titled "Ever Vigilant" is supposedly still in development.

But the series is now pushing forward in a new direction by fleshing out the origin story of the team's famed ninja, Snake Eyes, in his own solo origin film. With "Crazy Rich Asians" star Henry Golding leading the film as the titular hero, the movie sure seemed like an easy win for Paramount Pictures. "Snake Eyes" director Robert Shwentke and screenwriter Evan Spiliotopoulos focus on intense fight scenes with impressive martial arts sequences scattered throughout, showing what could be done with the character in the right hands. The first trailer quickly caught the attention of many action fans, especially since Iko Uwais — of "The Raid" fame — plays Hard Master, a key figure in Snake Eyes' backstory.

However, "Snake Eyes" has bombed at the box office, only pulling in $13 million domestically alongside a measly $4 million worldwide in the first three days of its release. But with a talented lead and an $88 million budget, it's even more disappointing that "Snake Eyes" has flopped at the box office. So why has it had such a poor debut? Here's why "Snake Eyes" might have flopped so badly at the box office.

Poor reviews and the pandemic didn't help Snake Eyes' chances

After plenty of buildup in advance of the film's release, it seems like the one-two punch of poor reviews for "Snake Eyes" — alongside growing concerns about the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus — has put off potential audiences. Currently, the solo spin-off is sitting at a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes alongside a B- on CinemaScore. Ouch. So as audiences are cautious about returning to theaters, many fans aren't going to want to part with their hard-earned cash for a movie they'll possibly come away from feeling shortchanged.

That's basically what Box Office Pro analyst Shawn Robbins explained to Variety recently, saying, "Moviegoing and general household economics are both still in recovery mode." Robbins continued, "Potential audiences are being selective with what they spend their money on." It's possible that the film might've had a better reception if it had debuted as a rental on a particular streaming service. But it's also understandable why Paramount chose to stick with a theatrical release, since "Snake Eyes" was already delayed four times throughout the last year thanks to the ongoing global situation.

There's also something to be said about giving the titular character his own adventure in an attempt that he could carry a full reboot of the "G.I. Joe" franchise. As Franchise Entertainment Research chief David A. Gross told Variety, "When a character is spun-off in a thriller series like this, a big drop follows." Obviously, Ray Park played the silent ninja in the previous "G.I. Joe" films, but "Snake Eyes" is a brand new direction for the franchise with Henry Golding at the forefront.

Gross went on to say, "Demand was simply limited here, especially without a well-known star or ensemble to drive interest outside the fan base." So is franchise fatigue to blame? 

Franchise fatigue might have contributed to Snake Eyes' box office

It's always difficult to find the next big franchise that will bring audiences to the movie theater in droves. Ever since Marvel Studios cracked the code of what a cinematic universe can do, many studios have tried replicating the formula with varying degrees of success. So far, "G.I. Joe" hasn't really managed to do the same, even with its lengthy list of characters and storylines that stretch from the animated TV shows and movies.

Since there hasn't been a "G.I. Joe" film since 2013, audiences have had no real reason to be truly excited about a revival of the franchise. Sure, the heavy focus on impressive stunts and fights was meant to be the hook for "Snake Eyes,'" but apparently, it isn't enough to draw moviegoers. Ultimately, it's possible that the appetite for new shared universe storytelling is starting to wane, especially in comparison to properties like those owned by Marvel and DC.

It's not the first time a studio has failed to kick-start a new franchise. In recent years, a good example is the infamous Dark Universe, which pictured a future where all of Universal's monster properties would converge... but then 2017's "The Mummy" did little to inspire horror fans. There's also "The Amazing Spider-Man" debacle, as Sony's attempt at creating its own separate Marvel universe of Spidey-related characters faltered following the poor reception to the sequel.

Perhaps the financial and critical disappointment of "Snake Eyes" might indicate to Paramount that it's time to go back to the intellectual property mine to find something else to adapt for the big screen. If you're still curious about the film, "Snake Eyes" is in theaters now.