Bad sign, always? Good sign, sometimes?
By belatedly getting pulled from the summer schedule and pushed back to next year, G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation has joined some infamous company. It's also joined some illustrious company.
A case-study look at five movies that got yanked:
1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
• When the Moving Van Showed Up: About three months prior to its planned November 2008 release. Warner Bros. said it saw the summer of 2009 as a better opportunity; conventional wisdom said the studio, after the staggering success of The Dark Knight, just didn't need another 2008 hit on its books.
• The Bottom Line: A Harry Potter movie could open on Mars and be fine; this one grossed nearly $1 billion worldwide.
2. Clash of the Titans (2010)
• When the Moving Van Showed Up: A little more than seven weeks before its slated March 2010 debut. Its studio, Warners, said it needed time to convert the epic to 3-D. If this sounds eerily reminiscent of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, it shouldn't: Clash was only pushed back one week, not eight months.
• The Bottom Line: The 3-D ticket sales added up to a big, $61 million opening weekend.
3. Shutter Island
• When the Moving Van Showed Up: Six weeks before the presumed Leonardo DiCaprio-Martin Scorsese Oscar vehicle was to bow in October 2009. In the depths of the recession, Paramount basically was cash-strapped.
• The Bottom Line: Shutter Island finally opened in February 2012. DiCaprio and Scorsese didn't get any Oscars, but Scorsese got the biggest opening of his career: $41 million.
4. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
• When the Moving Van Showed Up: When director Gus Van Sant told it to show up. At the request of the filmmaker, the 1990s Uma Thurman indie was pulled off its studio's schedule just three weeks prior to its scheduled opening.
• The Bottom Line: That the little movie, which opened eight months after van Sant's request for more time, made little money is not the point of this example; that films can and do get yanked very, very, very close to hitting theaters is.
5. Rollerball (2002)
• When the Moving Van Showed Up: When didn't the moving van show up? This Chris Klein-led remake of the same-titled, 1970s sci-fi-action favorite was a hot potato, moving from a prime summer spot to an August outpost to, about six weeks before that scheduled opening, the dead of winter in the following year. MGM said the film needed more marketing, and it did—the buzz was terrible.
• The Bottom Line: This movie is G.I. Joe: Retaliation's nightmare scenario, and maybe Channing Tatum's, too, considering how Klein's career tracked after this money-loser.