G.I. Joe: Retaliation date change – What does it really mean?

Obviously the big news for the day is the revelation that G.I. Joe: Retaliation has been quickly and suddenly delayed from June 29, 2012 to March 29, 2013.  The reason we’ve been given for this date is that they want to convert the film to 3D.

Is that the real and true reason?

There seems to be some conflict online throughout the fandom about what this really means and what the potential impact might be.  Is this a terrible by move by Paramount?  Could there be any redeeming value to this choice?  Please click the Read the Rest of this Story link below to get my thoughts on this, with 12 hours to think it over.

As I start typing this, we are recording a What’s on Joe Mind special edition with many peers from the online G.I. Joe community including folks like Arune Singh from Marvel Comics and Brian Truitt from USA Today.  Great insight from folks who have some background in the business.  But really, what does this mean for the G.I. Joe property?  From a Hollywood perspective, from a toy perspective, or even from a top down view brand perspective?

The first thing to keep in mind is why are they doing this? What is the overall purpose?  Are they being up front about the 3D conversion as the primary motivating factor?

Hollywood

Looking at this from a Hollywood angle, I do think this move makes sense.  I totally do not agree with the way they went about it, waiting until we’re one month from the film’s release, but considering the stiff competition from Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises, perhaps this was the best way to salvage a respectful box office return and offer up a better final product?  Looking at pure box office returns, I can see why Paramount might have done this, and maybe in the long run it’s better.  But it’s really tough, just from a fandom perspective, to keep the chin up with this disappointing news.  I know many of us have been caught up in the positive buzz within the G.I. Joe community, but there have been some industry analysts on line tracking potential box office returns for G.I. Joe: Retaliation and according to people within the industry that would know, the tracking has not been positive.  According to Director of Communications Arune Singh on the What’s on Joe Mind special edition last night, the film was tracking to pull in a mere $45 million in the opening weekend.  If that tracking can be trusted, the monetary return would have been disastrous, as the film could have been pounded further the following weekend by Amazing Spider-Man.

The Battleship Effect

Folks have been quick to start pointing the finger at Battleship as potentially causing this sudden and brisk move.  I can see how Battleship probably played a part in it, but I don’t think it’s the only place to point the finger.  I’m sure Hasbro was banking at least somewhat on success with Battleship, and it’s failure at the Box Office was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back, convincing Hasbro and Paramount executives that they could not risk another financial liability at the theaters.  But considering the effect of this decision, you have to think they were at least considering this move prior to hearing about Battleship’s box office struggles, which just came to light a few days ago.

I think there is also another film that people are overlooking…  what about John Carter?  I’m sure everyone remembers that special effects heavy film from Disney that received a decent promotional push, yet failed epically at the Box Office to the point where a Disney executive actually lost his job over it.  For all of the rave reviews and successes of The Avengers and Hunger Games, this early movie season has also been famous for the failures as well, and this had to be weighing on some executives’ minds.

Is it all about the 3D?

In a word?  No.  I don’t believe for a minute that the conversion to 3D is the only reason why this move is happening.  There is more to this story.  Obviously a fear of competition would lend some of us to believe that there was no confidence in the film.  Whether that’s due to bad screening response, or just due to a worry that the film wasn’t powerful enough to hold its own against Spider-Man, it is quite clear that fear was there and it was real.

This morning The Rock also Tweeted that they were “creating new scenes” to better take advantage of the 3D technology, and I think most of us can read between the lines there and see that some things are changing content-wise as well.  I believe that the conversion to 3D is a convenient excuse, but is in no way the primary reason why this change is happening.

So what about the toys?

I will admit, I am starting to come around to see the perspective of the studios in this move from June to March.  In looking at the competition, and in looking at the potential disaster that could result in failure at the box office, perhaps a move to a fresher, more realistic timeframe is what saves this film franchise.

But what about the toys?  Somewhere along the line, it seems Hasbro has stopped believing in itself as a toy company and has made the full fledged jump to Entertainment Studio.  Executives making decisions purely about the film without any consideration whatsoever what this film change is going to do to G.I. Joe’s retail presence.  We already have retailers who are skittish about the G.I. Joe brand, and this sudden confusion about the direction of the line and the property sure as heck isn’t going to help.

Not to mention Paramount and Hasbro execs already drove the design team to ramp up production to meet a moved up release date, and now all of that extra time and effort is being flushed for this sudden leap backwards.  Without knowing exactly where the toys are in the release stream, it’s tough to tell exactly what we’ll see at retail before a shift starts to happen, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that these toys are not going to move at retail with no film to drive them.  I don’t think any of us would argue that several concessions were made with these figures to get them in line with the movie branding and get them within a certain production budget and timeline, and now with the movie suddenly moving, that leaves all of this stuff in a lurch.  We now have figures with fewer paint applications and reduced articulation in generic packaging sitting in retail warehouses or on retail shelves, which were all depending on a big movie release to move product.  Now that movie release is not happening this year, and all of these toy concessions may be hurting the toy’s sell-through, with no film to push awareness.

In short, this could be a perfect storm of mis-management that ends up tanking the Joe brand at retail, even more than it already has, which is the true shame.

Deth of teh line?

So at the end of the day, what does this mean?  Is G.I. Joe as a viable retail brand dead?  Is there no hope?

No, I don’t think so.  As bad as things look right now, I do think there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  In this day and age of immediate response and immediate gratification, it’s easy to look at a nine month delay and feel like its forever, but it isn’t.

If they forced G.I. Joe: Retaliation into a June 29th release and the film tanked, it would have been an absolute kill shot for the film franchise and the brand as a whole.  No ifs ands or buts.   By pulling the film out and planning it for a March 29th release, Hasbro at least has a chance to try and refine some things about the film, improve the sellability of the film overseas, and possibly rethink some of their retail plans before moving forward at a more reasonable pace.

Yes, this is a punch in the gut now, but if a nine month push back ends up salvaging the brand and making it at least somewhat viable long term, I can understand and appreciate the decision, and I will continue to support it.

Not only that, but I have faith in the Hasbro design team and the guys “in the trenches”.  From everything we’ve seen from the film, and from all indications in toy production, the cast, crew, and designers at Paramount and Hasbro have been doing some awesome stuff where it counts.  Let’s all face it, brand recognition and awareness for G.I. Joe has been somewhat in the dumps for the past several years, yet the guys who matter, those guys in the studio have been kicking absolute ass with the toyline.  They’ve been taking potentially crappy situations and spinning it into retail gold.  I would argue even with the multiple concessions they’ve been forced to deal with in the Retaliation line, they’ve managed to do some very cool things with the main line in upcoming waves, not to mention the great looking Dollar General stuff.  It’s not all doom and gloom.

Popular response is going to be to throw stones and declare failure on all levels, and I think those responses are fair.  As G.I. Joe fans we’ve been dealing with stuff just like this for many years with the end of the 25th Anniversary, the reaction to the Rise of Cobra, Resolute coming and then vanishing, G.I. Joe: Renegades…  it’s become common place, but none of those failures were as visible as this.  It will take a lot to overcome, but I’ll be right there along the way, and if we end up with a better product and a more viable brand come April, 2013, then perhaps this nine month delay is worth it.

Unfortunately we can’t make that decision until we see the end result, and it’s going to be a very rocky ride until then.  Hopefully most of you take that ride with me.

17 thoughts on “G.I. Joe: Retaliation date change – What does it really mean?

  1. Toy Viper
    May 24 – 6:33 am
    Reply
    This has nothing to do with 3D and everything to do with the failure of Battleship ! These guys are afraid Joe will get overwhelmed by the summer’s big guns like Avengers, Amazing Spider Man and Dark Knight Rises. Oh and then there’s MIB 3, Prometheus and Expendables 2 !! If you’re scared, say you’re scared!

    Gractan
    May 24 – 6:39 am
    Reply
    I was more thinking…

    I’m sure this has NOTHING to do with certain DC Comics movie that is released a week later. I know if I had a movie being released before a HUGELY anticipated movie (Dark Knight Returns, Avengers, etc.) I’d want to postpone also. The 3D is just a stupid but plausible reason to reschedule.

  2. I’ll be on the ride until the car comes to a complete stop. Lol. I just hope my first Joecon isn’t like a funeral!! :-/

  3. The other 2 comments could be right…
    There is also “The President is really a bad guy” story line of this film…and this is an election year. I know voters are not dumb like the media thinks they are…but this movie could influence some voters come November. Don’t you think?

  4. It makes sense from a hollywood angle. But from as far as the action figures are concerned…What the hell? We had the best wave of figures (30th) come out with a very limited release (what if zombie viper would have made the pegs at Walmart? or this wave made it to a full retail distribution?) We pretty much have to buy online (a return to DTC?) in order to get product. Having Hasbro shelve GI Joe for 9 months is that 9 months of no production? Wave 1 and Wave 2 were showing up in China, that means that they’ve already made all the toys. What a scrambled mess.

  5. I don’t think this will ruin the GI Joe brand within America. This will have hit we fans of the line hard, but not really have bothered the regular movie-goer. And most Joe fans want the toys, and they’re there for you guys, so it’s just Another Wave of GI Joe, albeit with certain actor-likenesses.

    And if Hasbro holds off international distribution of the toy line until the movie next year it won’t do any more damage to the brand than Rise of Cobra did (which petered out slowly once everyone discovered the movie was rubbish).

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  7. I was initially upset when I heard yesterdays news. I was really looking forward to see this movie. I think 3-d conversion is dumb, and completely unnecessary if the movie is good. The fact that Paramount has little faith in this movie is disconcerning to say the least.
    I think Hasbro has some big challenges ahead of them the rest of this year and well into next. I think despite this epic mismanagement by both Paramount and Hasbro the GI Joe brand will endure in one form or another…I just hope that form is amazingly detailed, fully posable action figures with individual snap on stay on accessories easily accessible at retail.

  8. Hola, I hope you are doing very well, as long GeneralsJoes and Hisstank are ALIVE and Online, the HOPE is there for GIJoe going On!

    Anyway, dstribution here in México is pour and bad- and by buying on-line raised the cost due shipments- so what the h….?

  9. With the current incarnation of the movie already complete, how will Paramount stop
    people from seeing leaks of the movie before next March.

    It is possible that enough people may watch the current version if it is leaked, that the movie may never see the light of day in the theater

  10. I doubt this has anything to do with Battleship or Hasbro.

    Battleship was Universal and nobody with any sense thought that was going to do any box office domestically.

    Hasbro has no say in what the studios do with the films and they certainly can’t change the release date.

    Competition doesn’t make sense either since Spider-Man doesn’t have any positive buzz around it and looks like it’s going to be a flop and Batman opens like a month later so it’s not even a real factor.

    Poor screening doesn’t hold water either since ROC was a ridiculously broken film and Paramount let Sommers dick around with that right up to like a week before release so there’s no way Paramount gives a shit if Retaliation sucks. Also, the budget was lower than ROC.

    This reeks of some kind of accounting shenanigans on Paramount’s end. Especially, with it being moved to the end of Q1 2013.

  11. Here’s my “It’s a biiiiiig stretch” reason… It’s 1987 all over again folks… test audience and the studio wants Duke to live… especially with Tatum’s success with 21 Jumpstreet… the studio execs want him back in more scenes… so instead of dubbing the infamous “coma” line… they’ll put him in the movie for the long haul…

    Again…before you jump on me… it’s a “biiiiiiiiiig stretch” reason that I thought of… not meant to be taken seriously AT ALL… just take it as humor folks… but either way I’m just as pissed and disappointed as each and everyone of you all as a fellow life-long GI Joe fan waiting for what was supposed to be the “redemption” GI Joe movie that was potentially going to save a franchise…

  12. Pingback: G.I. Joe: Retaliation Problems | BattleGrip

  13. Yeah, this could be a case like Battlefield Earth, where they exaggerated the film’s budget and someone filed a lawsuit with intention of stealing the investors money. I don’t believe the film is truly bad or anything like that, I think Paramount has something to hide, it dosen’t make sense for them to risk losing even more money over this film, and March is a very hit or miss month, Hunger Games would’ve done well regardless of when it was released as it was based on a popular book series with appeal to both the male and female demographic. John Carter on the other hand probably would’ve done better if it was delayed from it’s March release date.

    So please sign this petition if you want to stop Paramount from making a big mistake!

    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/stop-paramount-from-delaying-and-converting-g-i-joe-re.html

  14. Really? Have you been to a retail store in the past year or so. If so did you ever go to the pegs were the joes are, mostly empty pegs. Need proof go to the Hisstank website and look up the old forums. There are many pictures along with many complaints over the fact of no joes in stores. This may have been caused by the ROC movie toys which stayed on shelves for some up until this delay on the second movie. Retailers have seemingly been very edgy about getting in any new joe product after the brands first live action movie flop.

    Then we have this delay on the movie and merchandise. Retailers are going to be so enthused to carry a line that was supposed to have a movie to support it on a certain date. Come January of 2013 it will be, oh just clearance that unsellable movie junk,” The movie has had no faith put behind it anyway.”

    This will affect the brand in America.

  15. Doesnt matter if they “take their time” over the next 9 months to make THE BEST film possible… the damage is done… in the eyes of the casual fan who cares- this movie is a dud now. Their is no faith in it and the bad 1st movie doesnt help either.
    Also-when a movie has too long in advance a marketing push ( TRON LEGACY) there is a backlash.

    GIJOE 2 will be a financial flop in every possible way now. And be looked at moreso because of the extra time given.

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