It's a no-go for Joe.
With just five weeks before its scheduled June 29 premiere, Paramount has taken the unusual step of bumping one of its key summer tentpoles, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, to March 29, 2013, E! News has confirmed.
Talk about a real American bummer. So what gives?
Per The Hollywood Reporter, the high-octane sequel to 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra starring Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis is being given more time so helmer Jon Chu can convert it to 3-D.
The trade quotes insiders close to Retaliation as saying the studio worried it might not be able to recoup its investment—50 percent of the financing for the flick (MGM and Skydance Productions contributed the other half). And if G.I. Joe ends up kicking butt in three dimensions, Paramount will increase its chances for a better return since it can rely on higher ticket prices thanks to the premium foisted on moviegoers for 3-D. The studio would not comment on how much it has already spent on marketing costs. Likewise, Hasbro has been rolling out tons of new toys based on the film and will now sit on shelves for months without a movie to tie into.
On the other hand, given the lackluster $30 million opening last weekend of Universal's Battleship—like Joe, another tentpole based on a Hasbro line—some were concerned the rough start could rub off on Retaliation, especially since Disney and Marvel's The Avengers has been crushing everything in sight.
With Paramount vacating that weekend, Deadline reports that Universal has now decided to push up Seth MacFarlane's feature-directing debut Ted. The much buzzed-about R-rated romp about a foul-mouthed teddy bear starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis was originally supposed to come out July 13, but will now unspool on June 29 to capitalize on G.I. Joe's absence and get the jump on the Fourth of July weekend.
Retaliation's postponement is just the latest in a string of problems plaguing the production.
A source tells E! News that Tatum, who plays Captain Duke Hauser, did not want to be attached to the follow-up and only agreed to do it if the filmmakers promised to kill him off in the movie as well as reduce the size of his role. That may explain why the studio turned to action mainstays The Rock and Willis as insurance.
If the delayed release is a bad sign, Channing may have made a smart move.