Audience desire to worship at the altar of Channing Tatum is now impacting a studio’s bottom line.
The official reason for the announced delay last week of “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” by a full nine months was that it gave Paramount the time it needed to give the film a proper 3D conversion (including some additional shooting of scenes to really utilise the format).
Now though, Deadline reports there was another reason – the “21 Jump Street” star himself and his growing appeal.
Perhaps the single worst kept secret of any film this year is that Tatum’s Duke character, the main hero of the first film, gets killed at the start of ‘Retaliation’. It seems the death is so abrupt that it did not go over well with test audiences, while the studio itself only recently realised the power of ‘The Tatum’ and his rise to prominence in recent months. Their source says:
In our first screening of the film the reaction from audiences was good but with two big concerns: 1) They didn’t like the fact that Channing and The Rock really didn’t have any time to develop a friendship before Channing died, and 2) Why wasn’t it going to be in 3D?
We went back and shot another week with Channing to develop more of his story with The Rock, which made the film play much better. But we didn’t have the time to be in 3D.”
But it wasn’t just the Tatum love that was the issue, there is also what could be unfairly nicknamed the ‘Kitsch factor’ – how big-budget disasters “Battleship” and “John Carter” would’ve been far worse had it not been for each film raking in $200 million worth of ticket revenue from international markets (mostly through 3D screenings). Their source says:
That [‘Battleship’ and ‘John Carter’ flopping domestically] was just a wake-up call that said to us we need to offer the best version of the film irrespective of summer market share to ensure the best possible performance. Not being in 3D will cost us a ton of business internationally.
Another issue was the competition. On the one hand there was “Magic Mike”, Steven Soderbergh’s male stripper film, which also stars Channing Tatum but in a much bigger and more revealing role. The source claims Paramount “didn’t want uniformed Channing to compete with stripping Channing on the same weekend.”
Over at THR, a producer told the trade that Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” reboot opening a few days later also generated fear that the film simply couldn’t compete – especially in a Summer where only the biggest of the tentpoles seem to be thriving while mid-range titles from “Dark Shadows” to MIB3 have underwhelmed.
With the delay though, the most important question now becomes one of cost. ‘Retaliation’ cost $125 million and the studio claims that only a further $5 million will be spent on the conversion as all the extra time allows them to negotiate better deals with the companies doing the work.
Another concern is that of buzz. Whether the studio likes it or not, a delay of this size is almost always seen as a negative. in In recent years however, Paramount has had big critical and/or commercial success with films that were delayed by at least four months from their originally intended release such as “Star Trek” and “Shutter Island”.
Earlier this year the studio also pushed back its Brad Pitt-led tentpole “World War Z” by six months and its Jeremy Renner led action fantasy “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” by ten months.