Huge news hit the web yesterday evening, that GI Joe 2 was suddenly being pulled from the original June 29th release date to March 29, 2013. A full nine month and one calendar year difference. Why was it pulled? There are a ton of theories.
The most popular seems to be that since Battleship did poorly at the box office, Hasbro and Paramount got scared. Battleship is supposedly on course to lose $200 million dollars, although I call total BS on that. Battleship has already made back it’s budget by nearly $100 million dollars when you count the foreign totals and it just opened in the US. Plus DVD sales and so forth, will definitely push the film into being profitable. Of course, it’s not going to be nearly as profitable as the executives wanted and it’s being labeled as a “bomb” in the United states.
This leaves the other most popular belief, that the film sucked and Hasbro/Paramount realized that they needed to tweak it to make it do better. I’m not entirely sure on this one, but I fully believe the film will blow chunks. I’ve said it looked horrible from day one. Hasbro/Paramount may have seen that explosions, army guys shooting stuff and a few half naked chicks doesn’t necessarily guarantee a blockbuster. Of course, this flies in the face of the “buzz” for the film, which was actually quite good.
The “official” story is that they wanted to upgrade it to 3D, but we all know that’s nonsense. Certainly they’re going to take the nine months and convert it to 3D, but nobody pulls a major blockbuster from release just weeks before release without some major issues… Much more than just the lack of 3D or even the bombing of Battleship.
I’m sure eventually we’ll get the real story and no doubt the film will get tweaks (hopefully Duke lives now!) before it’s release next March (assuming it doesn’t get pushed back again) but the question remains: What to do about the toys?
GI Joe has narrowly survived on the shelves after the disastrous run that was GI Joe: Rise of Cobra…. but just barely. Rise of Cobra nearly killed GI Joe as a toy brand, no matter how much money it made for Hasbro ultimately. The movie toys just clogged store shelves for years. In fact some stores STILL have Rise of Cobra on the pegs. Part of the issue was the early waves being overproduced and fans not buying the movie character designs.
Fast forward to now and we’ve got a situation where Retaliation figures are just hitting the shelves, perfect in time for the movie’s original release date. Now there will be a nine month wait between the release of the movie and the release of the toys. Will Hasbro stop shipments? That seems unlikely since many Retaliation figures are already on shelves.
Do those figures get pulled? Are they going to be super rare? Will the better, more movie accurate figures see release at the time of the film, given that Hasbro has more production time to get it right? It seems as though Hasbro can’t pull all of the figures, so whether they do a split or a full release, it will result in some temporary chaos.
But what do they do? These figures are attached to a movie that’s not coming out anytime soon. Will Hasbro attempt to keep these figures on the shelf for nine months and then however long after? That’s a disaster waiting to happen. Likewise, it would be quite costly for Hasbro to hold off releasing the figures they’ve already made.
But those 5 POA figures with vehicles that were only possible to sell during a movie push, will not move without a movie’s support. And what happens if they do release the figures and they die on the vine after a wave or two? Will they try to roll them back out again in March?
Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that Hasbro has likely planned a massive retail push for this line. Just as they did for Avengers and ROC. Many retailers were clearing out space for a larger assortment of GI Joes, because it had a movie attached to it. Will Joe still get that space and if so, what will they do with it? And if that space gets filled with unmovable movie toys, will it be the final nail in the coffin for GI Joe?
Finally, by delaying the movie nine months, all of the hype will be gone. This movie has been irrevocably stamped as a flop now. GI Joe: Retaliation has the stink of a film that had to be pushed back. This is like the kiss of death for most films. So even if the movie is good and the figures sell well for now, what happens when it finally opens and undoubtedly bombs? GI Joe 2 is now even MORE likely to bomb than before.
And so, does Retaliation become the end of GI Joe for now? So many questions left to be answered in the weeks and months ahead. The cards are currently stacking up that there are a half dozen or so scenarios where this could be the domino effect that kills GI Joe as we know it. Hasbro hasn’t officially said yet what their plan is, but whatever happens it will be one of the most unique moments in toy collecting and it will leave an indelible mark on the storied GI Joe brand.