Nolte: John Cena’s Groveling Apology Fails to Save ‘F9’ From China Box Office Crash

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06: John Cena speaks onstage at the Nickelodeon Upfront 2018 at Palace Theatre on March 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for New Games Productions Inc. )
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for New Games Productions Inc.

F9 is “projected to finish its China run with $211 million — a big number but just a little more than half as much as ‘The Fate of the Furious’ earned in China in 2017,” reports the far-left Hollywood Reporter.

Until F9 co-star John Cena opened his stupid mouth last week and squeaked out an apology to China’s dictators for accurately describing the country of Taiwan as a “country,” this insanely successful franchise, that is now 20-years-old, had astutely avoided politics.

But now the franchise is marred by Cena’s craven spinelessness, and all for nothing. F9, the franchise’s latest installment, is smoking hot death at China’s box office.

After two weekends in release, F9 fizzled in week two with a collapse of 85 percent. As of now, China’s generated just $136 million in box office and is expected to hit the finish line with just $211 million.

By comparison, Furious 7 and The Fate of the Furious respectively earned massive Chinese grosses of $391 million and $393.

THR is correct in saying there’s no way to know if “John Cena’s humiliating Taiwan/China gaff has had anything to do with F9‘s weak legs in the Middle Kingdom.”  “F9 has been hit by withering reviews [in China] from the start,” reports THR. “Its social scores are  … lower than most major titles released this year. Still, earlier in its run the film was forecasted to earn significantly more[.]”

THR admits, “Cena’s public relations debacle certainly hasn’t helped. The former wrestler referred to Taiwan as a country during a promotional interview, and then issued a groveling apology to outraged nationalistic Chinese fans[.]”

What might be happening is that no one in China is happy with Cena. The communist fanatics are angry at him for telling the truth about Taiwan being its own country, the non-fanatics are sickened by his shameless groveling, and the whole episode cast a pall over the event of an event movie.

It’s also important to point out that China’s box office has rebounded entirely from the China Virus.

Here in the U.S., where F9 opens on June 25, the reviews are mostly positive, a 65 percent fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, but as the release date creeps closer and the publicity amps us, Cena’s apology will undoubtedly be resurrected. It wouldn’t surprise me if Cena was placed in witness protection for the first few weekends.

His apology was the most striking act of self-immolation an actor can commit. It undermined entirely his public persona as a tough guy. Look at this…

Hi China, I’m John Cena. I’m in the middle of Fast and Furious 9 promotions. I’m doing a lot of interviews. I made a mistake in one of my interviews. … I made one mistake. I have to say something very, very, very important now. I love and respect China and Chinese people. I’m very, very sorry about my mistake. I apologize, I apologize, I’m very sorry. You must understand that I really love, really respect China and the Chinese people. My apologies. See you.

This simpering video, which he released on a Chinese social media site, was a universal catastrophe. Keith Olbermann criticized him. Hell, even people at CNNLOL criticized him.

Forget the specific issue involved. It’s the sweaty desperation that undermined Cena, that turned him into a punchline and marked him for life. Regardless of where you stand on Taiwan, you lose all respect for him, and the result is the draining of the goodwill required for a star to remain a star.

How this will affect F9’s domestic box office no one knows, but there’s little doubt Cena’s ascending star just took a major hit.


Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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