When Paramount announced last week that they were delaying the release of ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ from this coming June to March 29th of 2013, I was… not happy… and that’s putting it mildly. To make matters worse, Paramount said that their decision to delay the film was so that they could rework it into 3D. The reasoning was that, even if ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ were to flop here in the states, making it a 3D actioner would hopefully bring in some overseas dollars. The 3D angle seemed to work with both ‘John Carter’ and ‘Battleship’. Both of these movies flopped in the US but made beaucoup bucks across the pond. While that reasoning is sound, something about the announcement still didn’t sit right with me.
Now, courtesy of Deadline, we know that 3D conversion wasn’t the only (or possibly even the main) factor in the decision to delay a movie that already had a promotion juggernaut behind it. I mean Paramount already spent big bucks on a Super Bowl spot, all sorts of posters and a warehouse full of action figures prepared to ship to toy stores. So why the delay? In a word… Tatum.
In the ‘G.I. Joe’ franchise, Channing Tatum plays Conrad “Duke” Hauser. Tatum’s cheesy acting was also one of the many reasons viewers bashed the first ‘G.I. Joe’ film. When the trailers for ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ surfaced, it became clear that Paramount had listened to fans and dumped the things they didn’t like (Tatum, Wayans, Snake Eye’s mouth, and sci-fi Cobra Commander) and beefed up the rest, including adding Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Bruce Willis (‘Die Hard’) to the cast as Roadblock and Joe Colton respectively. As a bonus to the Tatum haters, his character of Duke is killed off in the early part of ‘Retaliation’.
The problem is that Tatum, with recent successes in ’21 Jump Street’ and‘The Vow’, is now a bigger deal than he was when the decision was made to bump him out of ‘G.I. Joe’. Now Paramount has decided that killing off Duke, with Tatum being so popular, might be a bad move. So, at least part of the reasoning behind delaying ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ is to reshoot portions of the film to flesh out the relationship between Duke and Roadblock. But fear not… word is that Duke will still die in the film.
Here’s the official word on the reasons for delay direct from 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 there you have it. ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ is indeed going back for 3D conversion but the reason for the length of the delay is to add in more Channing Tatum. Now personally I have no beef with Tatum and I’m one of the few people I know that enjoyed the first ‘G.I. Joe’ film, but I still have to wonder how this decision will affect feelings towards the movie.
I guess now we’ll have to wait nine months to find out.