In the past few days, Paramount slowly leaked word that their release of G.I. Joe: Retaliation would be pushed to March of 2013. Flicks change release dates all the time, but usually months out, before any major promotion has taken place. GI2 has billboards and ads running on TV. There are toys on store shelves. Paramount even spent millions on a SuperBowl ad. This move will cost them a huge chunk of change, and many have speculated why the decision was made.
The official word from Paramount is that the film is being retrofitted for 3D and needs more time. But that’s hogwash. Any plans for 3D need to be made months in advance. No studio worth their salt would fumble the ball this harshly. Some suggest that the poor performance of Battleship, another Hasbro property, affected the decision. Others suggested that the rumors of disastrous test screenings were in fact true and Paramount was embarrassed by the film.
Deadline, the source that first broke the story that Paramount was moving GI2 in the first place, has gotten word that the film will indeed be converted into 3D and heavily reshot. Here are the reasons straight from a contact at Paramount:
“This was a case of letting a schedule to fill a summer slot dictate the film not being in 3D even though we knew that would be the most commercial version of the film. Then in the spring there were 2 big events. First John Carter lost $200M despite the best efforts of the Pixar brain trust. But the 3D film managed to gross over $200M overseas, nearly tripling its U.S. take.
Also Channing Tatum had a breakout spring, starring in The Vow and 21 Jump Street. In our first screening of the film the reaction from audiences was good but with 2 big concerns: 1) They didn’t like the fact that Channing and The Rock really didn’t have any time to develop a friendship before Channing died, and 2) Why wasn’t it going to be in 3D? We went back and shot another week with Channing to develop more of his story with The Rock, which made the film play much better. But we didn’t have the time to be in 3D.
Then a week ago Battleship basically had the same performance as John Carter – $60M-$70M U.S. and just over $200M international. That was just a wake-up call that said to us we need to offer the best version of the film irrespective of summer market share to ensure the best possible performance. And not being in 3D will cost us a ton of business internationally.”
So now it seems like Duke is going to be featured much more prominently in the Joe sequel and probably brought back to life, but I have a hard time believing Paramount can recover from a move like this. They’re basically reshooting and rewriting the entire movie on the fly, and then they’ll have to re-market the film so it gets a respectable opening next March. This mid-budget sequel just got three times as expensive for them, and they’ve torpedoed director John Chu’s career in the process. Chu is reportedly not handling any of the reshoots.
I was pretty excited for GI2 just a few weeks ago. Now I feel like the film will never be the crazy and silly action flick we all wanted it to be.
We’ll keep you updated as the story develops.