EXCLUSIVE – Jon Chu speaks about G.I. Joe: Retaliation rumors

With the recent chaos surrounding the delay of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, film director Jon Chu’s Twitter account has been noticeably quiet, leading some to think that there might be something amiss.  In light of the recent rumors surrounding a contentious atmosphere between the director and Paramount, I reached out to Mr. Chu to ask him about the situation, and he responded to some of my questions.

The director of G.I. Joe: Retaliation denies claims that there is any contention whatsoever between himself and Paramount, and he is in fact currently at work on the film.  The long length of the delay was actually at his request to make sure if they were going to go through the 3D conversion that they do it the right way and not be rushed.

He did admit that he was disappointed about the push back of the film, but he is working hard to do the film right.  In fact, the director, who already has significant 3D experience with Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, said to me that he hopes to try some “fun new things” with the technology as we move towards the new release date in 2013.

While he obviously could not confirm any specific details about reshoots, he did say that any new scenes they are shooting will endeavor to be as good as they can be in 3D to make the wait worth while.

Mr. Chu did want to make sure that I relayed his deep appreciation for all of the great feedback he’s received so far and for how well he is being accepted and treated by the fans of the franchise.  He and Paramount are “working very well together” and from the sounds of it, the film is on the right track as we move towards March, 2013.  He was quite happy and satisfied that Paramount agreed to give them the extra time and resources required to do the film in 3D the right way.

I cannot thank Mr. Chu enough for taking the time to answer some of my questions and to put my mind at ease with some of these recent revelations.

It certainly has led me to treat some of these internet rumors with a large grain of salt as we get closer to the movie.

  • 788 Vs. Your Name Here

    they can kiss my ass in any dimension………….not even GI Joe can squeeze an extra $4 out of me for 3-D.

  • Ogre_h

    3D can be so hit an miss. Especially if they go for the cheap stuff instead of the depth enhancing stuff.
    Say, did you manage to ask John Chu what he thought of the ghost Recon Alpha Trailer?

  • Brian Kauffman

    Would love to know the odds of “fans” seeing the “Pre-3D” cut of the film…even if it’s only on DVD.

  • Awazha

    I won’t pay to watch it in 3D. Depending on if they can save this film, I may go the way I went with Rise of Crap-ra and watch it through alternate means. These studio execs are money hungry rats, and in turn I choose not to reward their failure.

  • Hawkwinter

    Not sure why the American GI Joe fandom is so extremely anti-3D, its rather odd. On my end this will actually add a few extra friends who will watch the film with us as they refuse to watch action films that aren’t 3D. The apparent logic being that if studios dont think the film is good enough to warrant 3D its not worth their time. I dont neccessarily agree with that but around here people flock to the 3D showings so it always baffles me why Joe fans in particular are so against it. Or at least there is a strong vocal part of the fandom.

    Granted this is a post conversion and that has me worried.

    I do like the technology though. Kinda fun.

  • poddie

    I don’t think this hatred has anything to do with Joe. It’s the “in” thing to hate 3D. I also think it’s a pretty badly misunderstood technology… many people have seen showings that were not lit or calibrated well, which makes the 3D not work so well. There is a very small percentage of people who can’t handle the eyestrain or who can’t interpret the 3D correctly… and they are very loud voices indeed.

    It doesn’t help that so much extra money is charged for it, and that they often add shots that are “gimmicky”, and look plain silly when viewed in 3D.

    And of course there have been a number of very poor conversions released that also color people’s impressions (like Clash of the Titans).

    I personally am all for it, as long as the conversion is well done, and they don’t go crazy shooting a lot of things that drag the 2D version down.

  • ARROW

    Unless the theatre has the proper set-up, 3D screenings tend to be murky and dark–because the projection needs more light to properly showcase the effect. Very few theatres are actually properly equipped. My first viewing of Avengers was just like this—it really diminishes the viewing experience. My second viewing was a 2D show and the film was all-around better looking than in 3D.

    Second is that the gimmick itself is seldom used properly. Avatar is a good example of effective 3D because it used the depth-of-field to enhance the story. Most “3D” movies just throw crap at the audience, which isn’t engaging or immersive. Its just a sensation, used to prod the audience for a reaction…….but there’s little or no regard to the effective use of those sensations, so its all about titillation rather than using said reactions to enhance the story. Avatar used 3D to push the scale and scope of the environs in the story, adding to the grandeur ( and thus the audience’s emotional response) of the story.
    Is GIJOE going to get down to that kind of nitty-gritty? I quite doubt it. Its going to throw more crap in our faces for cheap reactions, as i doubt the story has any kind of real resonance to it. Its a cheap thrill ride, being gussyed up with a trendy gimmick.
    So, for me……….a 2D screening is how I’m going to see Retaliation, if at all.

  • Joe

    It’s got nothing to do with being “anti-3D” and everything to do with being hyped for months about an impending movie and then being told to wait 9 months for a pretty bogus reason. If Retaliation was always going to be in 3D, it wouldn’t have been an issue. For the studios to pull it at the last second for a 3D conversion reeks of Paramount’s lack of faith in the product. They obviously hope to squeeze a few more dollars out of its inevitable short theatre run by charging more for the 3D effect.

    And like you said, it’s hard to get excited about post-conversion.

    Nobody complained about the 3D quality of Avatar. And no one will complain about the 3D quality of Prometheus (opening June 8!!) When done right, no one gripes. If this had been Retaliation’s plan the whole time, the only thing the American GI Joe fandom would talk about is the quality of the film itself.

  • ARROW

    I have to say I’m leery of his responses to the “controversy”–and the reason being is that if he comes clean about it, Paramount would axe him before dawn tomorrow and he’d injure his career quite badly because he cannot remain “confidential”.
    Being honest in Hollywood is synonymous with being “hard to work with”.
    Both parties have a vested interest in maintaining an appearance of cooperation and one big happy family–that is until its clearly not working out. Even then, the NDAs everyone signs tend to keep mouths shut because blacklisting is very real in Hollywood, and once you are “out”, it can be very hard to get work again.

  • Joe

    Don’t let Justin read what you wrote, dude! God bless him, he is the most optimistic G.I. Joe fan I’ve ever seen on the Internet.

    I don’t blame you for being leery, Arrow. But the fact is we have a long nine months ahead before we really get anywhere with this giant mess. There are as many Joe fans claiming this movie is D.O.A. as there are fans “keeping the faith” it will jump-start the franchise. Time will tell. I would love if Paramount and Chu really had all our best interests in mind in making this the best Joe movie anyone can hope for. I don’t believe that for a second, but I would love if it were true.

    Me, I couldn’t care less either way. I love my Joe collection. I love looking at other fans’ collections online. I love seeing fans like Justin and the others he’s introduced us to wave the flag of their passion for this hobby. There is plenty to love and continue to love for years to come without relying on The Rock, Jon Chu, and candy-ass post-conversion 3D to keep it alive and well in my heart. I wish we could fast-forward a couple years past these forgettable movies and realize G.I. Joe will always have staying power regardless of mainstream acceptance.

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  • ARROW

    I’d love to be dead-wrong.
    I really would, because then I’d get to enjoy a well-made GIJOE movie romp like the rest of the optimistic fans.
    I remain as big a fan as anyone else here.

    But I’m going to call it as I see it, and I see this in a cynical/pessimistic light.
    There’s a LOT of damage control going on here–because you might notice that NO-ONE from the film has stepped forward and said outright that its a great movie. Getting caught in a big lie just burns everything, so the “truth” gets danced around. What they don’t say speaks as much as what they do say…..that’s the biz.
    The core problem, as I see it, is that the movie doesn’t work.

    Strip away all the other pretences and it comes down to that simple truth–the movie stinks as it is right now. There’s too much money invested in it to come clean and announce it as a dud, because that is……well……its is shooting oneself in the foot. So they tell everyone to shut up and try to patch the thing up as best they can–salvage something out of what they cannot show at present.
    Really the aim is to make money…….if the film worked, they’d release it now and bank while they post-convert it for a re-release 9 months down the road. They claim that international audiences love the 3D stuff….so re-release it mostly in those markets.
    But that is not what they are doing….they yanked the whole thing, called the post-convert to cover their asses and hedge their coming losses ( okay, POSSIBLE losses) and are desperately trying to polish a turd.

    If the movie was AT LEAST as good as ROC–they’d release it now. They’d do what I just suggested above…….but they aren’t, which says to me that its a WORSE film than ROC……and that falls into line with the revelations that have come to light. I’m not seeking the bad in this….I just can’t ignore all the carefully-constructed spin. And right now, this thing is spinnin’ like an F-3 tornado.

  • Revsears

    Arrow, I think there is still some hope ehre. I think it’s important to remember, THEY would think it stinks based on your argument. It’s hard to know if it really will or not. Jaws was supposed to be a failure due to the shark breaking down, it wasn’t a failure by any means. I’m more worried that the end product will be worse than whatever we would have gotten now, too many hands and too many ideas at “fixing” things. Hollywood doesn’t always know what the audience goers perception will be.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1798548635 Aaron F. West

    How can anything about the movie possibly go wrong when it is FULL of ninjas? Abso-friggin-lutely STACKED WITH NINJAS!!

    As long as the story does not fall apart, I can deal with the cartoon-like movie. No matter what, I will see it, I will have a good time, I will by the DVD/Blu-Ray.

    Will it be a perfect military movie? With ninjas? Are you kidding me? No, it won’t be a hardcore military epic. But it does have a guy with a chrome-dome (three counting Willis and Rock), and TONS of FREAKING NINJAS.

    In the immortal words of a man wise in the ways of such things, “The Dude abides.”

    You can take comfort in that.

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  • solid385

    chu is over a barrel, i mean what do u think hes gona say, nothing thats gona damage his career, he’ll feed you whatever garbage they tell him to. I agree with ‘joe’ here. these movies will pass and be a lost memory. I still think that gijoe will have its day again, but it will not be anytime soon.

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  • Anonymous

    Ha! Yes, I am optimistic, but I’d have to be blind to think there isn’t at least some “spin” going on here. Arrow is an established industry veteran, and I take his input seriously. I’m glad he’s taking some time to comment on the site. :)

  • ARROW

    Rev-
    We could get just about anything come next March. To quote Ren Hoek:” It maaay be something good, it maaaay be something bad”.
    The trailers showed promise……I cannot forget that, but this announced delay, the screening rumours/reports….making a movie is hard enough.
    Fixing a movie is even harder–based on how broken movies have done in the past.

    Actually, if everyone wants a good example to gauge this by, look no further than the Star Wars movies. Lucas has gone in after the fact, and tinkered with those films–changing them in some fundamental ( and superficial) ways from how they were originally.
    Are they better as a result, or did they lose something? Did they need tinkering at all? Jury is still waaay out on that, even years after the altered films appeared, and those are considered much-loved movies.

    But GIJOE isn’t being tinkered with in a loving way here–its being shored up. I cannot think of a prior movie undergoing such fixes just prior to its schedule release date, and the political climate in the marketplace isn’t THAT tumultuous. The studios do not swing in the dark that much on these films–and logically, with all the money at stake, it’d be insanity to do so.
    That’s why THIS movie is so confusing right now……..

    Is the movie actually good enough to be worth some enhancements and being held back 9 months from release?

    Or is this a case of a film so dis-jointed that someone has to come in and prop up story points with character bits and action bits to tie it back together into some kind of sense? Will we learn a few months from that that, “oh by the way, Director X was hired to “consult” on the movie and help work it into its final form.”? That happens when a studio doesn’t have full confidence in the director-on-hand, and of course, its not a good sign.

    Right now, all of this is a guessing-game.

  • Joe

    I wasn’t paying attention back when Jon Chu was first announced as the director, so forgive me if I’m being redundant: Does anyone know why he was tapped to direct this film? Looking at his filmography (Some dancing movies, Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never) doesn’t make me think “Here’s the logical choice to reinvigorate a popular action franchise.”

    For the studios to lack faith in him AFTER the fact makes me wonder if they just picked his name out of a hat to begin with.

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  • ARROW

    In defense of Chu, the layman has to look at directing as not being a genre thing, but a technical thing.
    Forget about the subject matter of his previous work for the moment, because that is not necessarily relevant.
    Studio heads will look at how he pulled off the movies he’s done. Was the filming problem-free? Did he run a peaceful set? Did he pull off the aims of the film he was hired to direct? Did those films make money? Those are the considerations in something like this. Remember, Micheal Bay pretty much got his start directing MTV music videos, and transitioned into action films, so Jon Chu isn’t coming from that much different a place.

    GIJOE isn’t high-cinema……there’s not going to be a lot of “artistry” here–its a straight genre picture and I’d say that most directors would see it as more of a kids or “geek” film because of what its based on. The short-list of directors that were willing to work on this for the price offered probably wasn’t all that long ( or that eager) and Chu’s name probably stood out because he is a professed fan of GIJOE.

    The question that begs asking is if the genre did defeat him here ( or did it defeat the writers??) because the structure and nuances of an action film are different enough from other types of films. Did the pacing and story beats come off badly, via his direction?
    Unfortunately, the delay has opened these questions and the only way to effectively answer them is to see the film as it is right now.

  • Joe

    Thanks for that, Arrow. What you said makes sense. But it’s funny you mention Michael Bay at the same time say directing isn’t a genre thing. When I imagine “big-budget blockbuster with lots of explosions” I think Michael Bay. That IS his genre. Maybe Danny Boyle would have been a better example. He never does the same movie twice.

    Jon Chu is/was a professional dancer first, which I imagine helped him make movies about dancing — in fact, his filmography suggests that dancing movies *is* his genre. Maybe that’s why I’m confused with his selection as director. (I’m not saying you have to have been a Navy SEAL in order to competently make a G.I. Joe film.)

    I think when push comes to shove it was the writers who dropped the ball. You can only do so much with what you’ve got. Like you said, Chu never had problems from the technical end of things.

  • Ryan Wick

    I’m bummed for the delay, but happy I will have a GI Joe movie to show off my 3DTV with. Anything better than Rise of Cobra is a win. Plus you can’t make the Joes/Cobras look any stupider than the Sunbow/DIC series did…Half the time you see snake eyes he’s doing some jackass move like break-dancing with Timber…plus, c’mon…Cobra Troopers in the unemployment line in their Cobra uniforms??!!

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