Paramount is delaying the release of "G.I. Joe: Retaliation,"… (Paramount Pictures )
Paramount Pictures has delayed the release of its sole summer action movie,"G.I. Joe: Retaliation," from June 29 until March of next year, an unexpected shift that leaves the studio without a big-budget "tentpole" hitting theaters in 2012.
The move surprised even the film's director, Jon M. Chu, who early this week still expected the movie to open next month.
In an interview Monday with The Times, the 32-year-old director expressed excitement about the impending release date and a new trailer, and sounded like a filmmaker who felt he had already cleared the toughest hurdles of post-production.
"It's been a crazy journey but we're almost there," he said. "I'm excited for people to finally see it or even finally get a glimpse. I'm really excited about it."
However, Paramount's decision is also surprising to many in the movie industry for several reasons:
- It was done just five weeks before the film was set to hit theaters. Paramount has already spent millions on marketing and promotion touting the June 29 launch, including a Super Bowl commercial, trailers, posters, a presentation to theater owners at Cinema-Con in April and a website that now lists an incorrect opening date.
- It leaves Paramount with an extraordinarily light release schedule in 2012. Following the decision to delay December's zombie thriller "World War Z" to next summer, "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" was Paramount's only 2012 event movie with a budget of more than $100 million. The other five major studios all have several such pictures.
- Paramount's 2013 schedule is now comparatively packed with big movies. Along with two other movies delayed from 2012, the aforementioned "World War Z" and "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters," the studio is also releasing a new "Star Trek" and a reboot of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" animated franchise.
Studios typically try to have roughly consistent release slates each year to provide investors and parent companies with predictable costs and returns.
Paramount decided to delay "G.I. Joe" to convert it to 3-D, said a person close to the studio who was not authorized to be identified discussing the matter publicly. The conversion could help to boost box-office receipts for "Retaliation," particularly overseas, but such a decision is typically made far earlier in the production process.
In 2009, Paramount delayed the Martin Scorsese-directed thriller "Shutter Island" with about the same amount of warning. Studio Chairman Brad Grey said at the time it was a financial decision. No significant changes to the picture were made before it debuted in February of the next year to solid results.
"G.I. Joe: Retaliation," which cost about $125 million to produce and is being co-financed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Skydance Productions, is a follow-up to 2009's "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," a so-so box-office performer that cost about $175 million.
Paramount executives had been optimistic the sequel would be successful, even in 3-D, because they made it for less money, while adding well-known stars Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis to the cast.
March has become a popular destination for studios looking to open tentpoles outside the summer. This year,"The Hunger Games"grossed $392 million in the U.S. and Canada after opening in March.
Next year March will also see the releases of Walt Disney Studios' "Oz: The Great and Powerful," 20th Century Fox's "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" and Warner Bros' "Jack the Giant Killer," though those pictures all open before the release of "G.I. Joe" on March 29, 2013.
Paramount is scheduled to release "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" in June, on behalf of DreamWorks Animation. However Paramount has no money invested in that movie's production.