Sometimes there are box office miscalculations that end up on the positive side of the ledger. Sometimes there are miscalculations that equate to box office bombs. Although the G.I. Joe origins film, Snake Eyes, is finding some traction on iTunes as its #1 rental, the film definitely fell into the latter category of box office bombs.
Snake Eyes could also fall into the “unnecessary sequel/prequel/spin-off” category. As in, no one asked for it. Not that Snake Eyes isn’t one of the more popular G.I. Joe characters, he is. But what makes the character so popular (SPOILER ALERT) isn’t found in the film until its closing reel.
Before director Robert Schwentke gave us Snake Eyes’ origins, the character was an enigma. Throughout his time as the original G.I. Joe commando, his history was unknown. This mystery aided his popularity. It was something that fans of the previous G.I. Joe films, as well as animated series, latched on to – a badass character with no history.
Perhaps this is where Snake Eyes, the movie, lost its way. The film, being an origin story, tells of Snake Eyes, first as a young boy, then growing to the warrior who would eventually go by the familiar moniker. His name, we find out, derives from the young boy watching his father’s murderer make his father roll dice to determine his fate. When his father rolls snake eyes (double ones), his father is killed.
Snake Eyes, played by a game Henry Golding, grows to be a very talented but deadly martial arts fighter. His skills are put to the test in constant battle as he vows to avenge his father’s death. To do so, he is first recruited by Kenta, a wealthy Yakuza boss who claims he will find his father’s killer if he works for him.
To prove his loyalty to Kenta, Snake Eyes is tasked with shooting a man who betrayed Kenta. Snake Eyes is unable to, instead helping the traitor escape.
The traitor ends up being Tommy, Kenta’s cousin. Seems both Kenta and Tommy were in line to lead an ancient ninja society, the Arashikage clan, who are devoted to fighting evil and preserving order.
Thankful, Tommy takes Snake Eyes to his dojo in Japan where Snake Eyes must prove his worth. The trials set before our hero test his skills and his heart and when the truth comes out as to what Snake Eyes is there for, failure is the only option.
The double-crossing doesn’t stop, even when Snake Eyes finds out he was set up to work for the shadowy organization Cobra.
As far as origins stories go, Snake Eyes delivers. But is it necessary? The G.I. Joe film franchise began in 2009 with G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra that saw Ray Park handle the role of the silent but deadly ninja. The film also starred Channing Tatum as Conrad Hauser/Duke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Rex Lewis/Cobra Commander, while also had Dennis Quaid and Marlon Wayans on board.
The Rise of Cobra fared well enough at the box office ($302 million) to warrant a sequel, one that would call in bigger names. In G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Channing Tatum returned, and along with him came Bruce Willis as Joseph Colton (the original G.I. Joe), Adrianne Palicki, Ray Stevenson, and Dwayne Johnson as Marvin Hinton/Road Black. Ray Park also returned as Snake Eyes.
Retaliation fared even better at the box office than Rise of Cobra, giving way to the thought of a successful franchise. But as it often happens, the franchise never materialized. That is until the film’s producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (who produced the first two films) felt it was time to give the franchise new life.
Snake Eyes was set for a March 27, 2020, release but as most are aware, this was the time of COVID cinema. All major releases were delayed. The film took on a few new release dates before Paramount settled on July 23, 2021.
So, why did the film end up streaming so soon after its release?
It could be a combination of factors. With COVID beginning to again take hold with its new variants, perhaps audiences didn’t want to return in droves to the cineplexes. It could also be that there simply is much interest in a Snake Eyes origin story.
But the bottom line, at least to those who have seen it and critically speaking, is that the film isn’t that well put together. From the storyline to the editing and final product, Snake Eyes does not deliver. Not that Henry Golding didn’t give it his best effort.
Schwentke’s film, made for a modest $88 million, needs anywhere between $160-175 million to break even. At last count, his film has brought in a paltry $35 million, worldwide. This is the reason Snake Eyes has found its way to the many streaming services.
With its #1 ranking on iTunes, perhaps Paramount will be able to cut into its losses. Maybe Snake Eyes will find a bigger audience, one that can appreciate a good origin story.
Have any of you out there in GFR land seen Snake Eyes? If so, give us your thoughts on the film.