The 355 was finally released and the latest action spy pic stars Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger, Penelope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o, and Lin Mi Sheng; The top female cast plays a group of spies who join forces to get a top-secret weapon that falls into a mercenary’s hands. Unfortunately, despite the big names, the film was bombarded with negative reviews and ultimately failed to even make the projected $7 million that analysts say that the movie would make the opening weekend. Even if The 355 made the possible $7 million opening, it would still be a long hill climb for the spy thriller given the fact that its production budget is $75 million. So, what happened? The 355 was the only film released in theaters in the midst of leftovers, yet it somehow garnered one of the worst theater openings ever. Obviously, the coronavirus pandemic is still affecting the movie business so there’s no need to put that reasoning; however, this article will explore why The 355 bombed at the box office.
There Was Simply No Buzz For The 355
The 355 had two Oscar winners (Penelope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o), an Oscar nominee (Jessica Chastain), and an Emmy nominee (Edgar Ramirez Arellano), yet this film simply had no buzz surrounding it. The marketing campaign for The 355 started in late 2020, which was around the time movies such as Venom: Let There Be Carnage and No Time To Die came out, and no one batted an eyelash over the trailer. In all honesty, the trailer wasn’t too bad. The 355 had a clear story, tone, and genre, and the core cast was very appealing. However, the biggest issue with The 355 is that it failed to truly stand out in a unique way. Believe it or not, The 355 is in a genre filled with thousands of spy thrillers. The appeal of women being the focus of the action feature has lost its luster since movies such as Kate, The Protege, Gunpowder Milkshake, Ava, The Rhythm Section, and Jolt have come out within the last two years. In addition, The King’s Man and Spider-Man: No Way Home – both films had better reviews – were also viable opts for moviegoers looking for some fun action. There’s no exact reasoning why the film failed to gain any steam. There’s nothing controversial about the spy thriller so it wasn’t in headlines, but the marketing for the Jessica Chastain vehicle was decent, though nothing spectacular. Had this movie generated positive reviews then the clear strategy should’ve been to have this film travel around the circuit before an official release to gain some traction. Given the low rotten tomatoes score, audiences who were likely on the fence about the spy movie likely skipped out on seeing it.
The Appeal of Female-Led Action Movies Has Lost It’s Luster
One of the boasting credentials for The 355 is the all-star female cast, but as previously mentioned above, an all-female cast in an action movie is now the new normal. Just like Die Hard being a pivotal point in the action genre where we saw more everyday joe type male characters, it’s time that studios stop banking on the notion that audiences will simply purchase a ticket because it’s an all-female cast. It’s important to understand your demographic, and males are the ones who care about the action genre more than females. On the surface, The 355 avoids trying to be a feminist film like Charlie’s Angel, but there’s nothing about the feature that really demands that men should go out and see the movie as well. With The 355 aiming for a more feminine audience, it was fighting an uphill battle as women aren’t usually the prime demographic for action/spy flicks. While Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman were able to reach the $1 billion dollar mark, both films wisely play off each demographic as Marvel and DC understands that the comic book/action genre is a driven force by mostly men; however, the hype surrounding those films also had to do with the fact that they were under popular brands. In terms of producing and writing, Simon Kinberg has a nice filmography that includes Logan, Deadpool, The Martian, and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Whereas Kinberg’s only directing credits is the flop, Dark Phoenix, in which he also wrote. Kinberg’s name isn’t exactly in the good graces of many fans who were unhappy with that film. Despite the level of talent front loaded in The 355, none of the five women are huge box office draws as a leading lady. Jessica Chastain has been in four features that have made over $200 million worldwide; however, she wasn’t the main character in any of those movies. Lupita Nyong’o has two movies in the billion-dollar club, neither of those features was a lead role for her as well. The latter can be said for the remaining cast of The 355. There’s no denying the wealth of talent in The 355, but the movie needed to get by on more than their all-female moniker.