No one was buying that Paramount was delaying G.I. Joe: Retaliation purely for 3-D reasons. Sure, the movie would definitely make more in 3-D, especially overseas, but the costs of delaying the movie this close to its release date almost certainly match whatever additional money the movie would earn. So there had to be another reason, and my ex-sister site Deadline found it out:
Channing fucking Tatum.
It’s a pretty horribly kept secret that Tatum’s Duke dies in the beginning of Retaliation, as a way of severing ties with the first awful-to-mediocre Joe movie and relaunching the movie franchise proper. I thought it was a brilliant, ballsy idea. But something happened in-between when Retaliation was shot and now, and that something is that Channing Tatum has become a box office star.
Seriously. The Vow, 21 Jump Street — Channing Tatum movies have made serious bank, and now Paramount is determined to 1) add more Tatum scenes at the beginning, and 2) probably not kill him off. The fact that Tatum was just horrible in Rise of Cobra clearly has no bearing on the situation. They’re increasing Tatum’s presence in the film, and post-converting the movie to 3-D is just a bonus/solid excuse. Apparently all the test audiences who have seen Retaliation want more Tatum, proving that test audiences are morons and that they’ve never helped a movie be better ever.
Look, I’m not so hateful as to imagine Tatum is entirely without talent; by all accounts he’s really funny in 21 Jump Street, and comedy is hard; plus, his impossibly wooden performance in Rise of Cobra was likely facilitated by director Stephen Sommers, who is like the Platonic ideal of cinematic mediocrity. Tatum isn’t exactly Orson Welles, and he likely needs a decent director to pull out a decent performance. With RoC, he had no chance.
Hey, maybe Tatum will be… serviceable in Retaliation. I don’t know. All I know is that fucking with the movie this late in the game is undoubtedly a bad thing. But the real insanity is that it took Paramount this long to come to this decision. Look, studios make terrible decisions about movies all the time. Only Paramount managed to wait until a fucking month before the premiere to mess with G.I. Joe.
P.S. — Are there really going to be two G.I. Joe movies where Duke is supposed to die and doesn’t? Bizarre. Honestly, if Retaliation does the whole “Oh, and I just heard from Duke, and he’s fine!” at the very end of the movie, I will actually be okay with this.