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Why You Might Never Get To See This John Cena And Jackie Chan Movie

A film starring Jackie Chan and John Cena, two of the most likable — and bankable — stars working today, sounds like a sure thing. Both actors have proven they can operate in both action and comedic environments. Furthermore, their involvement in such a project gives it a chance to succeed in two of the world's biggest movie markets — the United States and China.

That seems to be what the producers of what was then known as "Project X" thought when Deadline reported in June 2018 that the actors were set to co-star in a film in which a former American marine partnered up with a Chinese commando in Iraq. Chan and Cena spoke at length about the film shortly after news broke with The Hollywood Reporter, where they compared it favorable to the Chinese action film "Wolf Warrior 2," which had made $855 million globally. There wasn't much more to report until Cena announced on Twitter in November 2018 that he had finished filming in China and was returning to promote "Bumblebee."

However, that would pretty much be the last that anyone heard of the movie. Collider caught wind that the film was still in the works early in 2019, even learning its updated title, "Project X-Traction," but no release date was given. Now, with no news for most of 2021, it seems like the film might never be released. Here's why.

Snafu may never see a wide release due to a changing international marketplace

An in-depth analysis of the nearly forgotten film, now known as "Snafu," published by Collider offers some intriguing speculation as to why the film may never see a wide release in American or Chinese theaters.

The most straightforward answer to the above question is the COVID-19 pandemic. While American theaters didn't react to the global health crisis until March at the earliest, China closed its 70,000 movie theaters in January 2020, per The Hollywood Reporter. Without those theaters in play, box office prospects for "Snafu" were limited. To make matters even worse, Cena referred to Taiwan as a country instead of identifying it as a part of China, causing an angry response on social media, per Deadline.

Beyond those obstacles, Collider observes that the international marketplace for films starring Chinese and American stars has shifted since 2018. Just as movies produced outside of the United States have always had a tough time reaching American audiences, Chinese audiences have recently demonstrated a preference for locally produced films with Chinese stars, despite the record-breaking success of films like "Avengers: Endgame" in the country.

While Collider notes that "Snafu" has already cost around $80 million to produce, a major global release in either marketplace would undoubtedly cost millions more. Pursuing that release despite the appeal of its leading men and already finished status could be a case of throwing good money after bad at best, and a high-profile flop could damage the careers of its stars at worst.