Vin Diesel is actually really passionate about keeping his movies in theaters despite the global coronavirus outbreak. He has two major movies coming up soon -- his Bloodshot superhero movie on March 13 and Fast and Furious's F9 in May. He's a producer on both films, so he has at least some say in what happens. And unlike James Bond or even Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel is not budging.
That's good news for the many, many people who have already purchased F9 tickets, although it could potentially be a larger box office problem. Vin Diesel's action movies tend to do very well around the globe -- and no one loves the Fast and Furious movies more than China, aka the second biggest box office market in the world. (For example, China gave a record $392,807,017 to The Fate of the Furious, aka Fast 8, vs. the $226,008,385 that movie made at the domestic box office.)
A New York Times map is tracking the coronavirus outbreak, reporting at this point that the virus has sickened more than 107,200 people, across 95 countries. There have been at least 3,646 deaths. All but 549 of those deaths have been in mainland China.
Vin Diesel knows China is a huge audience for him, and he told USA Today he was even pushing Bloodshot's studio Sony to let him still head there to promote the film, despite the outbreak.
I love to show up for the audience and for the fans because God knows how much they've showed up for me. I’m crazy. I'm begging Sony to let me go to China, even now. And you should see everyone's faces like, ‘You're going alone, buddy!'
That's commitment! Here's what Vin Diesel added when asked if there had been discussions about moving a huge movie like F9:
Let me put it to you this way: Bloodshot at the end of the day is a soldier and a soldier doesn't decide or pick when or where he's deployed. We're going to go in.
Vin Diesel seems to be making a cinematic cause of this effort, since the theatrical experience is already threatened by streaming and so many other viewing options. Martin Scorsese may even get a tear in his eye at this next answer:
[I] won’t fault anyone in the world for saying, ‘You guys are stupid for releasing this movie right now.’ [But] we need movies now more than ever. We're already in a very interesting time where cinema and the cinematic experience is so threatened. So, yes, put it on record we're going to show up.
They're showing up! And if it does hurt the box office, Vin Diesel said maybe the higher thinking is just that "we're all one world and we all have to get through this together.”
The domestic box office doesn't seem to be as affected by outbreak fears as what's happening around the world, especially in China. For big action movies like F9, it would mean losing a big chunk of box office. For Bloodshot, it's already a movie that's coming in fresh trying to establish itself in a new universe. That international box office is really going to be key to keep the movie alive.
Human lives are obviously a lot more important that movie box office. No Time to Die set what some thought might be a precedent by moving from its April release date to November 2020. Eyes turned to other major movies to see if they might do the same, but so far Fast and Furious 9 is staying put, and Marvel's Black Widow is apparently doing the same.
Bloodshot is Vin Diesel's second superhero character, after Groot, and obviously quite a bit different. Diesel admitted he felt some pressure bringing the Valiant Comics character to life since he's the favorite superhero of many members of the military. As for F9, there's a lot of anticipation for Fast and Furious 9, as fans wait to see how exactly Han is back for justice.