Those among us who were looking forward to seeing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Bruce Willis team up to kick some Cobra ass next month in the increasingly badass-looking sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation are in for a mighty disappointment. Nikki Finke at Deadline reported today that Paramount Pictures has decided to pull Retaliation from its June 29 release date and delay it until March 29 of next year so that the film can undergo a 3D conversion.
“We’re going to do a conscientious 3D job because we’ve seen how it can better box office internationally,” an unnamed executive at Paramount told Finke. “Jim Cameron did all of Titanic‘s 3D in post — and look how well that movie turned out.”
Release date changes are old hat in Hollywood, but the sudden decision to bump Retaliation to next year comes as a shock to many considering that the film’s advertising campaign has been in full swing ever since late last year. The trailers, TV spots, and posters have all been greeted with a mixed response, but the buzz on the movie had been a greater deal more positive than its predecessor, 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. A sizable array of toys, comics, and other movie-related merchandise were gearing up to launch in advance of the original release date and the International G.I. Joe Collector’s Convention being held this year in New Orleans was scheduled to feature an advanced private screening of Retaliation.
The official studio line is that the recent success of The Hunger Games proved that March could be a great time to open a major movie ahead of the summer blockbuster onslaught, but that movie was an adaptation of a mega-popular young adult novel with dark and mature subject matter financed by a fledgling studio that probably would not have done as well if it had opened in the Summer. G.I. Joe: Retaliation on the other hand is a summer popcorn action movie in both body and soul; this movie was designed to be enjoyed in an air-conditioned theater on a hot and boring day. It’s the kind of committee-constructed escapism we’ve come to expect from the studios, the polar opposite of The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises, but possibly no less enjoyable on its own merits.
That’s the line we’re going to get from Paramount, who was only in for half of Retaliation‘s reported $125 million budget while Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Skydance Productions split the other half, but the unspoken reason probably has a lot to do with the recent Stateside belly flop opening of Universal Pictures’ board game adaptation Battleship. Both Battleship and Retaliation were based on beloved Hasbro toys that have been around for decades, but the G.I. Joe line long ago expanded its characters and mythology into the arenas of comic books and animated television. Plus Retaliation was the only movie of the two with any actual stars; Battleship had Liam Neeson, but his role was thankless and reeked of a quick paycheck.
Then again maybe the reason Retaliation is getting its release date pushed back and converted to 3D is because the movie just plain sucks and the studio is trying to find a way to milk every possible dollar from it and have less to write off, but I doubt it. In the meantime, Universal has pushed Seth McFarlane’s debut feature comedy Ted up two weeks into Retaliation‘s old slot.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation will open in 2D and post-converted 3D on March 29, 2013.