The last decade has seen Hollywood lean heavily towards the Chinese market, which is understandable when the country is now the world’s biggest market for cinema. Sure, it may be cynical and often results in heavy creative compromises, but the movie business is entirely driven by making as much money as possible.
Christian Bale, Adrien Brody, John Cusack, Michael Douglas, Johnny Knoxville, Matt Damon, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Frank Grillo are just some of the names to have lent their talents to a Chinese project in the recent past, but John Cena shot an action blockbuster with Jackie Chan well over three years ago that might never see the light of day.
Scott Waugh, who was recently announced for the new Expendables adventure, helmed the film that’s been known as Project X, Project X-Traction and Snafu at various points, which began filming in June 2018. Fast forward three years and Cena is a much bigger star than he was then, while Chan remains an all-round legend of the genre, so why is it still sitting on the shelf?
A combination of frostier political and trade relations between the United States and China were cited as one potential reason as well as the pandemic, which saw local theaters favor homegrown movies at the expense of American-backed titles. In fact, just three Hollywood efforts have been released in China since the beginning of June.
Additionally, Cena’s almost instant apology for referring to Taiwan as a country during the Fast & Furious 9 press circuit has seen his reputation take a battering on both sides, with many people criticizing the actor for his pandering, while Chinese media heavily discourages the island being referred to as independent, so the film board might not want to plaster the WWE star’s face all over posters and billboards.
In short, neither American nor Chinese distributors appear to have any interest in releasing Snafu, so it might end up gathering dust for a whole lot longer, if not eternally.