In what has to be one of the strangest movie-related moves I can remember, Paramount has decided to push back G.I. Joe: Retaliation nearly a full year, to March 2013. The press release claims the delay is because Paramount suddenly, at nearly the literal last frigging minute, decided to redo the movie in 3D.
As Rob notes at TR, 3D does really well in foreign countries, so it’s just possible Paramount and/or Hasbro decided they could make even more money with the much-maligned post-production 3D conversion. (And for what it’s worth, the Rock’s claiming new scenes will be “designed” to take advantage of 3D.)
One thing’s for certain: very few people are buying the argument that this is being done solely to turn the movie into 3D. The studio had plenty of opportunities to make that decision and evidently passed every time – at least until Battleship sank (which anyone could have seen coming a mile away).*
There’s no question the delay is, at best, awful for the film’s PR, and it has to be problematic for Hasbro. Retaliation toys are already on the shelves in stores and no doubt many more are shipping; the movie itself got promos during the Super B0wl, so the awareness is out there.
As far as I can tell, most diehard fans – and even those not really interested in the property like myself – were excited for the film. TR’s Rob wrote, “if Avengers weren’t coming out, this would absolutely be my most anticipated movie of the summer.” If that’s not a great endorsement by a high-profile geek, I don’t know what is.
But maybe there’s a disconnect between what geeks/fans are saying and how it’s tracking with your average moviegoer. If so, I suspect this is due primarily to the deservedly miserable reputation of G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. And I’m not sure that’s anything that can be overcome by a conversion to 3D – but I guess you could get a few more foreign moviegoers to spend a few hours in an air-conditioned theater.
In any event, whatever buzz this film had has been unquestionably wounded by this move. Fans who were excited for it are now wondering if the film sucks. The decision just comes so late in the game that any observer has to wonder what the hell went wrong.
The bigger question for toy collectors is whether this represents a major blow to the toy side of the franchise, which barely recovered from the Rise of Cobra mess and recently suffered a setback in regard to Renegades‘ lack of success. Will G.I. Joe “die”? No, it’s much too valuable a brand. But it’s feasible that a bad performance by Retaliation could cause Hasbro to put G.I. Joe into hibernation for a while.
*I’m not sure you could ever make a good movie out of Battleship, but I still think a wiser route would have been to set it during WWII and hire Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, Captain America: The First Avenger) to direct it.