Remember last week when we heard that “GI Joe: Retaliation” had been moved out of its prime June release date in order to convert it to 3D? Paramount said that overseas demand for 3D movies, especially in Russia and China, is so strong that they were willing to yank the movie–which already had posters, billboards, toys, a trailer, a pricey Super Bowl ad–in order to convert it to 3D and release it in 2013.
I pretty much bought that explanation–3D, no matter how crappy looking or unnecessary it is, has saved many a recent movie overseas (“John Carter” was a flop in the US, but made money worldwide in 3D). However, Deadline says there is more to the story.
It’s been public knowledge for quite a while that Channing Tatum’s character only briefly appears in the sequel. You get the impression he wanted little to do with the franchise and was ready to move on; Paramount, after seeing how Dwayne Johnson helped revive the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, was no doubt happy to have him essentially take over Tatum’s leading role in “GI Joe,” and hopefully get that going in a better direction (remember, it’s not like the first film was a blockbuster). However, when all these decisions were made, Tatum was just another good looking action movie guy. Since the day when Paramount shrugged and said, “Kill off his character, who cares?” Tatum has had two big hits in “The Vow” and “21 Jump Street,” and has another high profile release, “Magic Mike,” coming out in June. So the one person in the cast other than Johnson who’s now a genuine box office draw gets killed in the first few moments of the movie.
Worse, when Paramount showed the movie to test audiences, they gave it bad to mediocre scores with–guess what–Tatum and Johnson’s relationship being the only thing they liked, complaining that there was too little of it. So in addition to the whole 3D conversion thing, they’ve also done some reshoots to add Tatum to scenes (I wonder what kind of paycheck he got for that, as they begged him to come save the movie…) and recut it so he doesn’t die right at the beginning.
So yeah, this is going to add a lot to the price tag of the film (I can just imagine the commercial during next year’s Super Bowl…). It’s all part of an epic miscalculation on the part of Paramount, but they probably are hoping that they’re going to avoid making it a super epic miscalculation–like “Battleship.”