G.I. Joe: Retaliation Box Office concerns overblown?

This post sort of ties in with some conversations I’ve had on Twitter lately, and also a very good Q & A session and discussion from our recording last night of the latest installment of What’s on Joe Mind.

Essentially the subject of the discussion is how successful can we expect G.I. Joe: Retaliation to be at the Box Office when Amazing Spider-Man is hitting theaters the following weekend?  Should we realistically expect a big hit in Retaliation’s numbers?  Does this mean that potential box office success for the G.I. Joe sequel is an impossibility?

You know, I’m not so sure.

Click the Read the Rest of the Story link below for my thoughts.

If you’d asked me a month ago, I would have said that Amazing Spider-Man is going to whack G.I. Joe: Retaliation at the theaters and never look back.  The result is likely one big weekend for  the Joe film and then potential obscurity.  The hope I’ve always had was that first of all, the initial weekend would be aggressive enough to carry the film, and number two that it had some level of staying power, and even if it didn’t crack the top of the charts from week 2 and forward, it might still amass enough cash to be considered a success.  Well, I’m starting to think I’m vastly underselling the potential of this film.

In order to properly judge the potential success of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, you only need to look back to April, 2011, when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson revitalized another franchise, the Fast and the Furious.  You see, the two situations are remarkably similar.  Fast Five hit April 29th, 2011 and was a high octane action film that followed up a previous film which performed pretty lackluster.  Using Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a catalyst, they relaunched the franchise.  Not only does this sound pretty familiar, but one week after Fast Five launched, the potential juggernaut Marvel film “Thor” was released (May 6th, 2011).  As expected, Thor pushed Fast Five from the top spot at the Box Office and was considered a pretty large commercial success domestically.

But here’s the funny thing.  Because of its international presence and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s star power worldwide, Fast Five ended up making $125 million more than Thor in the end.  Some will say that’s comparing apples to oranges…after all, it’s tough to compare Thor to Spider-Man when you’re talking about world icons.  Spider-Man is infinitely more recognizable than Thor.

However, back in 2011, Thor had fantastic word of mouth.  Everyone loved the director, everyone loved Natalie Portman…from a critical perspective, it had a lot going for it.  Not so much in the case of Spider-Man.  The Amazing Spider-Man is yet another film reboot, which I get the impression is pretty grating to fans.  Folks really have not expressed any major interest in Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, or Rhys Ifans, and let’s face it, star power sells.  Fandom reactions to the costume have been lukewarm at best, and noone seems to be latching onto the look or feel of The Lizard either. In fact, if you poll fans, it seems like even for diehard comic book fans, Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t even appear in the top 3 of films they’re looking forward to this year.  It seems to be getting overwhelmed by fury for The Avengers (no pun intended).

Comparatively, G.I. Joe: Retaliation has fantastic word of mouth.  Every trailer seems to be spurning positive discussion, not just in G.I. Joe circles, but in general geek circles everywhere.  But it’s not just geeks getting into it, it’s the millions of The Rock’s fans.  This guy has it, and it seems like the more footage we see the more excited the general public seems to get.  This cannot be overstated.

Then there’s that word again…  “star power”.  I remember when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was first cast as Roadblock, the overwhelming reaction was positive, but mostly in a reserved sense.  A kind of “sure he’s great, but…”.

News flash.  There is no “but”.  As I’ve covered this film for the past six months, I say without hesitation that Dwayne Johnson was the perfect choice as lead for this film.  He appeals to the right demographic, and he flat out sells tickets.  For the love of God, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island has already made almost $315 million dollars!  That’s not a coincidence.

I am certainly not the only one who thinks this way either.  In fact, CinemaCon has just named Dwayne  Johnson as “Action Star of the Year“.  Now on the surface this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you consider that CinemaCon is hosted by the National Association of Theater Owners, which is the largest and most established group of theater owners in the world, this is a pretty big thing.  G.I. Joe fans can stand back and say that the biggest action star in the industry right now is starring in our film, and that is nothing to sneeze at.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation hits US theaters June 29th, 2012.  Are you going to be there?

  • Gyre-Viper

    I haven’t been following what anyone has said about the new Spidey film because I think the first three Spidey films are horrid and I have little hope for this one. That being said… I’ve not heard anything negative about Retaliation that I agree with. I think for every Joe fan there is who doesn’t like ninjas… there’s 3 non-joe fans who are anticipating this film FOR the ninjas. THAT being said… Retaliation seems to have gotten a LOT more attention than Spidey.

  • 788 Vs. Your Name Here

    i can personally guarantee $13 in retaliation movie tickets and $80 in toy sales. off to a roaring start!

  • Skywarppro

    Honestly, I have not paid any attention to Spider Man. Why a reboot? Ugh. But then I am not a huge Super Hero movie fan. I saw Thor and it was okay. I think GI Joe’s “staying power” is going to be dependent on the amount of advertising Spidey gets and its media attention. Its still too early for either to get full media attention.

  • FeloniousMonk

    I’m somewhat in “the biz” and, from how the data is currently trending, neither of these movies is garnering much interest outside of geek circles. The Amazing Spiderman is the more known commodity, and name recognition alone is floating it along. However, it’s rumored to not be a very good picture, and some speculate that Disney (owner of Marvel) has pretty much disavowed any relation to the film and can’t wait for Sony’s contract to be up. Retaliation, on the other hand, is attracting cricket chirps. Contrary to popular fanboy wisdom, the trailer hasn’t created much hype, once again, outside of those who already care about the brand. The general consensus appears to be that the trailer has already shown us the best the movie has to offer. No one seems to really care right now, but that could change with more marketing and a better trailer.

    In general, customers aren’t taking any chances with the movies they spend cash on (see John Carter’s spectacular flop); they’re sticking with what they know. This will be the summer of The Avengers, Batman and Pixar’s Brave. Everything else will be an also-ran.

  • Talon1load

    I’m a huge comic book and I’ve recently gotten back into GI Joe and I am without a doubt looking forward to GI Joe Retaliation the most. I’m excited about Avengers and the new Batman but GI Joe is the one that I’m looking forward to the most. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie and then going to Joe Con the next day.

  • http://twitter.com/geoffdes78 Geoff DeSouza

    You hit it on the head, Justin: Thor is in NO WAY comparable to Spider-Man. Spider-Man 3 did nearly $900 million worldwide – and made more outside the US than The Dark Knight did. Thor didn’t even do half of that… and that’s without adjusting for inflation.

    It’s problematic, but this Spidey Movie’s not got the buzz behind it that the previous three movies did, largely because Marvel has no interest in promoting it when they’ve got Avengers to worry about, and Dark Knight Rises is looming in the background.

    Also, the Fast and the Furious movies are more easily sell-able worldwide* than a GI Joe movie. Fifth movie in a series about oddly homoertoic car racing? More cachet than a toyline whose appeal was primarily domestic.

    The biggest crime for Retaliation is that it would’ve done ridiculously well last year, which was pretty underwhelming. This summer is absolutely stacked – Avengers and DKRises would’ve been enough, but then the sheep are also going to turn out for Battleship….

    * – Other than Korea, of course. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Patrick-Hixenbaugh/1404054719 Paul Patrick Hixenbaugh

    I think Retaliation will be a surprise hit. My family and friends who go to the movies regularly definitely know it’s coming, and seem interested. I think the Rock (are we still allowed to call him that?) will also bring in a younger audience.

  • FeloniousMonk

    Marvel doesn’t have much of a say (believe it or not) due to Sony Pictures currently holding the rights to the Spiderman film franchise. Add to that the fact that Marvel’s owner, Disney, doesn’t have much incentive to promote Spiderman over The Avengers–which is technically a Paramount film, but WDSPD (Walt Disney Studios Picture Distribution) is distributing it & handling a lot of the promotion themselves. Sony is actually failing on the marketing of The Amazing Spiderman. They believe the cachet of the franchise itself justifies not sinking so much cash into that side of it ie. “It sells itself!”. Big mistake, but it sounds like they’re realizing it. Word is that, once the Sony-Spidey contract is up, Disney is planning yet another reboot.

    Off topic, but related: Iron Man 3 will be the first Marvel film produced by Walt Disney Studios.

  • http://twitter.com/geoffdes78 Geoff DeSouza

    That’s what I meant – Marvel used to push Spiderman REALLY hard, but this year they’re not doing anything with it, because it serves their interests more for Spider-Man to flop. And people thought DC’s movie politics were screwed up. They’re obviously lining up behind the Avengers on several different levels – notice how there’s tons of Avengers toys coming out from Marvel’s partner Hasbro, but little to no Spider Man toyline support.

    And, yeah, Sony’s been too quiet with it. They’re obviously just doing this to hang onto the rights, only without the “actually giving a shit” factor that turned X-Men First Class into such a great film. But I think “being quiet” just means it’ll make $600 million instead of $900 million. Franchise momentum is TOUGH to break.

  • Dusty Ayers

    That’s my impression also. I think Joe fans are clamoring for the movie but I don’t get the impression that it is drawing in a ton of casual fans. I have heard that same complaint regarding the trailer too. I think if people are saving their money for a movie they will proabably save it for The Avengers and Batman and not Joe unfortunately.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, but you’re talking about three films that will likely make close to a billion dollars worldwide. I’m not even talking about that level. I think we all know and realize that there is no way G.I. Joe: Retaliation is going to be a huge mega-billion dollar blockbuster. But really, I do think it has the ability to pull in 500 – 600 million dollars worldwide, in spite of the stiff competition it’s receiving.

    After all, if Amazing Spider-Man is being released at the same time all across the world, there will likely be places internationally where G.I. Joe: Retaliation won’t face such a battle for Box Office dollars.

    I’m not expecting it to compete with the big boys like Avengers, Dark Knight, etc… but I think it could still pull in enough money to be considered successful, regardless of the full plate of geek themed films this summer.

  • FeloniousMonk

    I’m just giving some insight into the current “buzz” within the business itself.

    Remember too that billion dollar movies are a rarity, and 500-600 million is a lot of gate. I mean a HUGE number. To put it into perspective: Rise of Cobra was a 300 million movie worldwide; Thor hit $550; Captain America, $370, Iron Man, $585; IM2, $624; all 3 Spideys finished under a billion respectively and out of all the T-Formers, only Dark of the Moon broke a billion. Batman Begins raked in “just” $370 mil. Now here’s just how rare a billion is: despite being wildly popular across gender lines and all age ranges, only one Pixar film has ever breached it, Toy Story 3. And, get this, while they both hit a billion, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland actually brought in more than The Dark Knight.

    Point is, there’s nothing saying that any of the three I listed will touch a billion, and this is a damn difficult thing to predict. Batman stands the best chance, but I see it realistically hitting maybe anywhere from 600-800 mil. The Avengers? Maybe 400-600. Brave will probably hit 300-400, but could just as easily fall flat.

    Retaliation will be lucky to touch 300 mil. worldwide. I see it that as a realistic expectation.

  • Anonymous

    Those are all good points, but I guess with Retaliation’s vastly improved word of mouth and much more established action stars, I would hope it performs better than the Rise of Cobra did. I would think that Dwayne Johnson’s presence alone would help it over the earnings of film one, but time will tell.

    I do see that I’m probably over-stating an estimate of 500 – 600 million, as I was judging that on Fast Five’s performance, but perhaps I’m under-valuing that film as being less than just an action vehicle for The Rock.

  • FeloniousMonk

    Yeah, Fast Five is an anomaly of sorts. It hit at the right time when the heavens aligned for it: competition was light, people were looking for light fare and were also finally getting tired of sitting around hoarding money. Plus, the marketing hit all the right notes and promised a return to the original movies; no more “Tokyo Drift”, in other words.

    I get what you’re saying, and I’d like to see Retaliation do better than 300 mil, but I’ll be happy with that, given the odds stacked against it. That’s assuming it’s a decent flick. If it’s crap, it deserves to crash in burn.

    Also realize that Rise of Cobra actually had more mainstream (ie. “non-geek”) buzz leading up to the release date than Retaliation seems currently engender. To give you an example of the general lack of recognition for G.I. Joe: I was talking to a Carmike theatre manager yesterday and inquired about Retaliation. Not only did he not know when it was opening, he hadn’t even been aware of it and it wasn’t listed on their corporate-provided list of opening dates for the year. Out of all the theatres I’ve visited, I’ve yet to see one stick of Retaliation POP. Guess what the theatres are full of? Brave, Snow White, Madagascar 3, Prometheus and Abe Lincoln crap. All of which are competing titles with June opening dates.

    Sorry to be a downer about this, but Paramount better start pushing Retaliation pronto because it’s not looking good. Now, I’m no guru and I’m wrong as often as anyone else. Sometimes lighting strikes (as with Fast 5) and a movie catches fire and sets the boxoffice alight, but there’s often some advance buzz that’s trackable through google searches and the like, and it usually has a lot to do with the marketing leading up to opening. I’m not seeing that with Retaliation, sorry to say.