Ok, so within about a month of its planned release, GI JOE: Retaliation has been inexplicably and bewilderingly pushed back to March of next year. Nine months delay for a movie that was supposed to be done and ready to go. The official reason: So it can be given the 3D treatment to improve overseas numbers. My initial two reactions? 1. Bullshit! 2. What about the toys?
Now, I don’t usually cover news here, but it seemed like I would be remiss if I didn’t weigh in on the whole GI JOE: Retaliation A-Bomb that Paramount and Hasbro dropped this week. Granted, you don’t see a lot of GI JOE figures covered on FigureFan these days, and that’s mostly because I’ve managed to convince myself that the 25th Anniversary figures are my definitive versions of these characters and while I concede that the figures (not necessarily the vehicles)coming out since has been in many ways superior, the designs just don’t do it for me. My days of buying 20 different versions of these characters are over. That having been said, I’ll pick up a figure or vehicle here and there if it strikes my fancy. I still need to pick up that blasted Sky Striker.
The way I see it, there’s three ways to attack this mess. One, how will it impact the movie. Two, how will it impact the toys. Three, how does it impact me. I’ll take the last one first.
It really doesn’t impact on me. I was planning on seeing the movie, and believe me when I say that’s high praise. I didn’t like the first one, and I don’t actually go to see movies unless I really want to see them extremely badly. I don’t enjoy the theater-going experience and for the price of a ticket and a coke, I can own the damn thing on Blu-Ray when its released. That having been said, I was going to see it, but I’m not heartbroken that I have to wait. I’d just as soon go see Avengers again. I have the same “Meh” reaction to the toys, which leads me back to Point Two…
I really wasn’t interested in the Retaliation toys. I will probably pick up a few Cobra figures, but that’s it. The designs of the figures don’t do a lot for me and I think the vehicles look terrible. Nonetheless, I still think that this decision to delay the movie will be disastrous for the toyline and pretty damaging to the toy brand as a whole. And let’s face it, GI JOE hasn’t been a particularly strong presence on the toyshelves in quite a while. The brand really needed this push to keep it alive so that retailers could recognize it as a viable, marketable toyline. We still don’t know what Hasbro will do vis-a-vis future waves, but the initial run of these toys are already in retailer stockrooms, and Hasbro is giving them the go ahead to break the street date.
This is a no-win situation for Hasbro. They’ve already seriously fucked over the retailers that bought these toys with the expectation of a multi-million dollar movie tie-in, which they see as advertising the brand. On those grounds alone, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some sort of opening for litigation here. If Hasbro holds back the rest of the toys for next year, they’re going to generate a lot of bad blood among their retail partners. Case in point: For a while now, Walmarts in my area stopped selling Joes altogether and only made an exception for the Rise of Cobra movie. If they made a similar exception for Retaliation only to have the movie delayed, its doubtful the retailer is ever going to have confidence in the line again.
As for the movie itself? Marketing budgets are figured carefully into the cost of movies and Paramount has already blown that budget on this one, not least of which a very pricey Super Bowl spot. All of that money is as good as flushed down the toilet. If Paramount is going to start the marketing juggernaut up again next year, its going to seriously cut into the film’s profits, but how can they not? And can that really expect to be reclaimed by making the movie 3D for foreign markets? Hey, these decisions were made by people who do this sort of shit for a living. I’m just a hack with a keyboard, so what do I know? But it all leads me back to my initial thought that the 3D excuse is bullshit.