Man, you gotta kind of be feeling for Paramount and their seemingly cursed “G.I. Joe” franchise. The first film by Stephen Sommers was a disappointment, to say the least, taking in a modest $300 million worldwide (not a great figure when the budget not including P&A was $175 million) but worst of all, it failed to capture the imagination of the fanboys in the first place. Nevertheless, a brand is a brand is a brand, and the studio forged ahead with a sequel, upping the ante with stars like Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis, but in what will be regarded as one of the worst decisions to be made in recent memory, they decided to kill off Channing Tatum early on in the movie. But with the late-stage decision to push the flick to 2013 under the cover of converting it to 3D, the studio is hoping to put some Tatum sauce back on their blockbuster steak.
Deadline reports that according to their insiders, test screenings for the movie found that audiences wanted more bro-time between The Rock and The Tatum and they were asking for 3D (though the latter request sounds like something the studio made up). So what’s the plan? More Tatum. And it’s hardly a surprise. The actor has two big hits under his belt in 2012 with “The Vow” and “21 Jump Street” and will likely score another big opening with “Magic Mike” in the next few weeks. Apparently, a week of reshoots has already happened adding more Captain Duke Hauser, but you have to imagine the studio is kicking themselves for tossing a young rising box office star out of their tentpole. Oops. Deadline suggests that “the movie is being reworked” with implication that Tatum won’t necessarily be killed off. Maybe he’ll get an ambiguous death to keep the door open for a return later on?
The studio’s nerves are apparently also frayed after watching “Battleship” and “John Carter” run aground domestically, but they are hoping that 3D job can help boost international ticket sales, which is where they think the movie will make some big coin. However, we’re not sure how that thinking makes sense considering “G.I. Joe: Rise Of The Cobra” made pretty much the same both at home and abroad. But with a smaller budget — said to be around $130 million after 3D conversion, though lord knows they’re going to have market this thing all over again — the task of making a profit might be slightly easier. But at least this whole thing has been a boon for eBay hounds. Savvy buyers who have snapped up movie tie-in toys that were out early on shelves at Walmart, Toys R Us and Target are expected to make a mint selling them online to collectors who just can’t wait. Hooray for the economy.
Either way, it all seems a bit sad/desperate but abandoning a prime summer release date is not a decision taken lightly. We’ll see if Paramount can right the ship when the movie lands next spring on March 29, 2013.