I’m going to try very hard not to be melodramatic, but I will say over the past few days there has been a lot of thinking, analysis, and a lot of talking out the recently revealed issues with the G.I. Joe: Retaliation film. From a fandom perspective, we were all so geeked out and so fired up about what we saw in the trailers, it was easy for us as a collective group to ignore any potential that the film might not live up to our lofty expectations.
I think we were all so certain this film couldn’t possibly fall below the standard set by G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, when word started coming out that early screenings revealed some potential issues with the film’s quality, combined with the nine month delay and rumors of product recalls, the sudden chaos brought by all of the combined changes has thrown the fandom for a loop. There has been quite a bit of discussion, and yes quite a bit of rage out there, and frankly, it’s hard to say it’s not justified.
But I’ve been doing quite a bit of introspection myself over the past couple of days, and as folks have come to expect from the site, I’d like to offer a rosier outlook than many have been discussing (here on GeneralsJoes certainly included).
Yes, the film is being delayed. Yes, quite a bit of product will not see store shelves in 2012. But, no this is not the end of the world. Read on to read my thoughts.
6 – The public has a short attention span
Sure, when it comes to the trials and tribulations of G.I. Joe fans, this Retaliation delay and toy fiasco will leave an indelible mark on our minds. It will be etched in the annals of history as another one of the big blunders that G.I. Joe fans have had to deal with in the 21st Century. However, the movie going public at large has many more important things on their mind and likely come March will have forgotten most of this chaos. They’re not fully invested in the film and in the brand as we are, and when March, 2013 comes up on the calendar, most of them will barely remember what happened. After all, how many of us remember that such high profile films like Shutter Island and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince were delayed when they were initially released?
5 – The G.I. Joe brand is resiliant
Really, I couldn’t say it any better than the way Twitter friend Twitziller put it in the following tweet:
“Just about every cool thing hasbro’s done’s been a quiet restart built in the ashes of their last Great Idea.”
It’s so true. Yes, this is by far the most visible issue that has come G.I. Joe’s way in recent memory, but the brand has survived and indeed thrived through previous roadblocks (pardon the pun). In 2005, Sigma 6 came rushing in, and while I certainly loved it, I won’t pretend that it didn’t drive away a huge segment of the fandom with the change in scale and style. Hasbro seemed to think this was their next great renaissance, and that never seemed to happen, but as Sigma 6 faded from public consciousness in 2007, Hasbro quietly pushed out the 25th Anniversary, and many would argue for adult collectors that was modern G.I. Joe’s return to greatness.
Upon the retail catastrophe that was Hasbro’s next “Great Idea” with The Rise of Cobra, Hasbro delayed for many months, then quietly unveiled the Pursuit of Cobra, which then morphed into the 30th Anniversary, and many fans would say these were the finest action figures Hasbro has ever released to retail. So if the G.I. Joe: Retaliation toys aren’t lighting your fire, and if they aren’t much improved by March when they come out, no reason to panic, have confidence that the Joe design will regroup, recharge, and come out with both barrels firing. Even if it’s not loud and aggressive and with trailers during the Super Bowl, chances are it will be a great toyline and perhaps even get back to the basics that Joe fans are always wild about.
4 – The Rock is still involved
Yes, the movie has hit a 9 month delay, and all reports from early screenings are that there are some significant issues that need to be worked out. But when those nine months have passed and the movie is staged to come back out, one of the leading men in the film is still Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and he still sells tickets.
Yes, there have been complaints that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is not a great film…but is it any worse than something like Journey 2: The Mysterious Island? That film, currently rated as a middling 42% on Rotten Tomatoes still brought in around $325 million internationally, and a lot of that has got to be based on Dwayne Johnson’s widespread appeal, especially considering the first film only managed to make about $240 million. The Rock is still CinemaCon’s “Action Star of the Decade” and he still has a legion of fans, and even with some issues with the film, tickets will be sold based on his involvement.
3 – The film may not be as bad as it is being made out to be
Perhaps it is, but I’d wager it isn’t. The most visible critic of the film screenings was the mysterious “Caller X” who called into KERN Radio with his run down of how the screening looked, and while he certainly had complaints, they seemed to be more like “this film could be improved” types of complaints and not like “this film is the worst one EVAHHH” type of complaints. Yes, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is firmly in the public eye right now, and there is some very tight scrutiny, so obviously any complaint involving the content of the film is going to be met with outrageous overreaction. There are certainly issues with it, based on everything we’ve heard, but are they deal breakers? Nobody can truly judge until they see it for themselves.
Trust me, I’m not saying to ignore the reports and continue thinking the film is awesome, because those would be unrealistic expectations at this point. But as totally and incredibly awesome as we thought the film could be based on the trailers is so far removed from how bad this “Caller X” seemed to think it was, I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is most likely not as flawless and perfect as the fans wanted to believe it was, but I also don’t think it’s the widespread calamity that people are calling it now based on reports from one person’s viewpoint.
2 – They’re still adding 3D
I will say right up front, I don’t really care one way or the other about 3D. I love seeing a film in iMax, and yeah, the novelty of Avatar was pretty interesting at the time, but I won’t really go out of my way to see a film in 3D. That being said, 3D is still a very hot ticket, especially overseas, and considering that’s where a lot of money is that Paramount is hoping for, it makes perfect sense to make technical changes to the film to draw more interest from the international market. And yes, the added ticket sales will only increase box office returns, so while adding 3D is very likely a marketing twist and an excuse for the delay, the fact remains that adding it could add to the box office totals, and could help the film be successful, which means good things for fans of the G.I. Joe brand.
1 – Hasbro and Paramount seem dedicated to improving the film
This is the most important point, at least in my opinion. Based on the actions of both Hasbro and Paramount, it would certainly appear that they are both extremely committed to improving this film. Paramount is reportedly footing most of the bill for the film delay, continued marketing, and is spending a lot of their own cash on reconverting the film into 3D, which shows a significant interest in making sure the film is as successful as possible.
According to “Caller X” from KERN Radio, Paramount is also investing a lot of money in reshoots based on reactions to the trailer, and the fact that the delay is nine months shows to me that they are willing to spend time and money to improve the final product. Granted, Hasbro ends up getting the bad end of this deal almost all the way through as they are forced to ship out retail product that doesn’t mesh with any big media tie in as they had hoped. As such, Hasbro is taking a huge financial hit on this one, and certainly has the motivation (along with Paramount) to make this endeavor as successful as humanly possible.
So, judging by the time table for releasing the film, and the rumors that are coming out about reshoots, plot changes, and screener feedback, it certainly sounds like they are taking things into their own hands and putting a focused effort in improving the end product. This is certainly a big monetary investment for them, and it will take a lot of work to get G.I. Joe back to the forefront of people’s minds, but I am at least somewhat encouraged by the fact that they are taking this task on.
Of course, star’s schedules and the film budget will dictate a lot of what can or cannot be done, but with Paramount showing a willingness to dip back into their wallet, they’re now on the hook, and I think will be working a lot harder to make this a better product, which is good for all of us.
So in the end, no the news has not been good over the past few days, and right now the picture is not very rosey. But I think there are pieces in place that could provide a good foundation for a March release, and even if things don’t quite go our way with this motion picture sequel, G.I. Joe is one of Hasbro’s few in house brands, and it has survived almost 50 years. There’s no reason to think this event alone will sink the ship, and who knows, perhaps at the end of this storm we may just have a good movie to hang our hat on, or some really great toys following it up.