GI Joe Retaliation, Channing Tatum, The Rock

Paramount Pictures

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is back. For the first time.

The Channing Tatum-Dwayne Johnson action sequel, hastily yanked from last summer's release schedule, opened midnight Thursday (with some Wednesday-at-7-p.m. showings in there, too) presumably en route to winning the weekend box office.

Various projections have the film grossing in the neighborhood of $40 million from Friday-Sunday.

While that domestic debut wouldn't be splashy for a super-sized 3-D entry, it wouldn't be bad for a movie year in which action movies haven't done well. (Last weekend's surprising non-fail of Olympus Has Fallen was indeed a surprise.)  

And it'd be good for a film that got benched—and infamously sojust five weeks out from its high-profile, Super Bowl-teased Summer 2012 scheduled opening.

 "The indications are it's going to be well-liked by the audience that's likely to see it," says Doug Stone, president of Box Office Analyst.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is the followup to 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which helped set Tatum on his current trajectory, and which opened to about $54 million.

The new film, which features Tatum, but stars Johnson, suffered from a case of bad buzz after its studio announced it was delaying its release in order to convert it to 3-D. The reason was widely viewed as an excuse, maybe even a cover story for a bomb.

Fast-forward to today, however, and the finished product is faring OK-enough with critics. That is to say, they're not loving it, but they're not Movie 43-hating it, either.

According to Stone, even the much-debunked conversion story has had something of a positive outcome.   

"The 3-D is very good," Stone says, citing word he's received from early-bird screenings, "and it helped the film, and it was a good thing to do for this type of movie."

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