Guy Ritchie has already theatrically released two movies in 2023, but they haven’t been remotely successful and they continue a terrible box office trend for the filmmaker. The British director is best known for his crime capers that feature over-the-top comedy violence and dialogue that reads like it was pulled from Urban Dictionary. But that’s exactly why half of Ritchie’s movies have been phenomenally successful at the box office, as his profanity-filled one-liners and gory action sequences are endlessly entertaining, whether it’s in low-budget crime movies or big-budget action flicks.
However, while his filmography has made a total of almost $3 billion at the worldwide box office, the filmmaker has had two bombs in quick succession. Ritchie is undoubtedly a prolific director, but working at such a pace didn’t go in his favor this time around. The Covenant has gotten overwhelmingly positive reviews, but it’s tonally different from what critics and audiences have come to expect from the director, and that has resulted in a shockingly low box office gross. And just one month earlier, Operation Fortune had a disappointing performance too, failing to make back its budget.
Why Operation Fortune Failed At The Box Office (Despite A Stellar Cast)
Operation Fortune had all the makings of a hit, as it featured an all-star cast and featured Ritchie’s typical brand of comedy, but it bombed for a multitude of reasons. Its “rotten” 52% Rotten Tomatoes score is an obvious explanation, as it’s one of the lowest scores Ritchie has ever gotten. But there are some extenuating circumstances, and the movie’s flop isn’t wholly a result of its quality. Operation Fortune was delayed by a year, not because of COVID-19 like other movies, but because the villains in the movie are Ukranian, and it was scheduled to be released just as the Ukranian War began.
While Operation Fortune would certainly have received backlash, it would have been more successful if it stuck to its original release date. The backlash would have drawn attention to the movie and piqued people’s interest, and it would also have meant that the distributors wouldn’t have had to spend twice the amount of money on marketing. Instead, the studio knowingly suffered a huge loss. The movie was also released internationally as early as January 4, which is a time frame that’s usually reserved for movies that studios don’t have any faith in. Not to mention that Avatar: The Way of Water was still breaking records at the box office.
The Covenant’s Box Office Flop Was Expected
The Covenant had a slightly bigger budget than Operation Fortune with a $55 million production cost. Even though it’s far from the biggest budget Ritchie has ever had, as Aladdin had a budget of $183 million, the film is by far the director’s most ambitious. Ritchie has never directed a war movie before, not to mention such a somber approach to the material. As the director is known for his dark comedy, The Covenant is free of any humor whatsoever and is deadly serious. That it was a refreshing change to Ritchie’s formula, as the director has earned the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of his career with a “fresh” 83%.
However, despite the enormous amounts of critical acclaim, the movie only made $7 million on its opening weekend, meaning that it’s extremely unlikely to earn back its budget. But the flop is hardly surprising. Ritchie comes with his own guaranteed audience, as fans show up for his unique brand of comedy and crime, but the whiplash-inducing change of tone risked alienating Ritchie’s fanbase. The bomb was also expected, as The Covenant was only being theatrically released in the United States, and it’s available on Amazon Prime Video everywhere else. As Amazon turned the MGM-produced movie into a direct-to-streaming film, whatever it makes in the U.S. is essentially just a bonus.
Guy Ritchie’s 2023 Movies Make His Box Office History Even Worse
Including the two new movies, Guy Ritchie’s box office average isn’t great. While some of them might have found success with physical releases and then on streaming, seven of his 14 movies left theatres in the red. It seems as if Ritchie’s movies often bomb when he strays too far away from what he’s best at. The romantic comedy Swept Away only made back 10% of its budget, and the swords-and-sandals fantasy movie King Arthur: Legend of the Sword couldn’t make back its inflated $175 million budget. And even though it has gotten positive reviews, the dramatic The Covenant is a far cry from his usual comedy violence. However, when Ritchie’s movies are successful, they’re phenomenal hits.
Ritchie’s directorial debut, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, made $28 million, which sounds like nickels and dimes by today’s standards, but relative to its microscopic budget of $800,000, it was a huge hit. His follow-up, Snatch, made $83 million off a $10 million budget. And his two Sherlock Holmes movies made a combined $1 billion. Ritchie is also part of the billion-dollar club, as he directed the 2019 live-action remake Aladdin, which grossed $1.046 billion. While Aladdin might have had a guaranteed audience and is part of a huge franchise, reaching a billion dollars is still a great feat, and it proves that Guy Ritchie is more of an audience pleaser than a critical darling.