Why Paramount isn't showing "G.I. Joe" to critics

by Eric Melin on August 4, 2009

in Blogs

Why Paramount isn’t showing “G.I. Joe” to critics

Here’s an AP article about why Paramount isn’t showing “G.I. Joe” to critics. All I can say is that if they were so worried by the “critical trashing ‘Transformers: Rise of the Fallen’ received,” then what do they have to fear? Here in KC, there’s been lots of advance screenings, but the press were intentionally kept out. We had a screening we were invited to that was actually canceled. When they say they “want audiences to define this film,” what they mean is that they want to get one big box office weekend in before word gets out that it’s terrible. After all, they’ve got $175 million to recoup.

marlon wayans g.i. joeYou know those people who say: “Well, if it’s number one, somebody must like it!” Wrong. It means a lot of somebodies WANTED to like it. They liked the idea of it. The ad campaign. The stars, maybe. But people pay BEFORE they see a film, not afterwards.

This story is a joke. It’s a piece of regurgitated PR. Enjoy!

Associated Press
Posted: Tue., Aug. 4, 2009, 8:24am
Paramount won’t show ‘Joe’
Studio denies critics a sneak peek
By Christy Lemire, ASSOCIATED PRESS

It’s the biggest movie of the summer that practically no one has seen.

“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” opens Friday, but Paramount Pictures isn’t screening the blockbuster for critics beforehand. Only a select few writers from blogs and movie Web sites have seen it for review – such as Harry Knowles, the self-professed “Head Geek” from Ain’t It Cool News – and their opinions have been mostly positive.

Instead, the studio says it’s intentionally aiming the movie at the heartland, at cities and audiences outside the entertainment vortexes of New York and Los Angeles. Paramount held a screening Friday for 1,000 military service members and their families at Andrews Air Force Base; it’s also focusing marketing efforts in places like Kansas City, Charlotte, N.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

While appealing to a sense of patriotism nationwide, the plan also is inspired by the disparity that existed between the critical trashing “Transformers: Rise of the Fallen” received and the massive crowds it drew at the box office.

“`G.I. Joe’ is a big, fun, summer event movie – one that we’ve seen audiences enjoy everywhere from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to Phoenix, Ariz.,” said Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount Pictures. “After the chasm we experienced with `Transformers 2′ between the response of audiences and critics, we chose to forgo opening-day print and broadcast reviews as a strategy to promote `G.I. Joe.’ We want audiences to define this film.”

sienna miller g.i. joeWith a reported production budget of $175 million and a cast that includes Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, “G.I. Joe” follows the adventures of an elite team using high-tech spy and military equipment to take down a corrupt arms dealer. It comes from director Stephen Sommers, whose previous films include “The Mummy” and “Van Helsing.”

Long before anyone saw the completed product, though, “G.I. Joe” drew mixed buzz at best for its trailer, which premiered during the Super Bowl. Now it’s the final action picture of the summer – and it has a lot in common with the highest-grossing film so far this year, the “Transformers” sequel. Both are effects-laden spectacles based on Hasbro toys and both are Paramount releases from producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

“Transformers” has gone on to gross more than $388 million in the United States alone since its opening six weeks ago, despite receiving just 20 percent positive reviews on the Web site Rotten Tomatoes, a critical aggregator. The withholding of “G.I. Joe” from mainstream critics suggests that the studios believe they can succeed at the box office without them.

It’s a tactic normally reserved for horror movies or other genre pictures with built-in fans who don’t necessarily care about reviews – ones based on video games, for example – not summer blockbusters. Still, “G.I. Joe” has been tracking well because it represents the last big bang of the season, said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com.

“They don’t need (to screen) it and there’s no upside to negative reviews. The film is going to open well no matter what,” Dergarabedian said. “They’re being very strategic in who they show the movie to. If they can win over their core audience from these reviews, that’s good for the movie.”

Devin Faraci from the film Web site CHUD.com is one of the few writers who have seen it for review purposes, and not just for junket interviews. He’s among the critics who’ve contributed to the movie’s 88-percent positive rating as tabulated by Rotten Tomatoes, saying: “If I was 10 years old, `G.I. Joe’ would be one of the best movies I had ever seen.”

Faraci said he was in Toronto recently when he received a phone call at 8:30 a.m. Los Angeles time, asking if he could come to the Paramount lot that day for a “G.I. Joe” screening. He flew back, got off the plane and headed right over.

“It’s silly. It’s a film that plays on its own terms,” he said. “I don’t think reviews will kill it but I think it’ll get a more positive response than they expect. It’s a big, silly, pulpy, cartoony action film and it makes no apologies for being that way.”

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 J. August 4, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Dear Hollywood: Please cease calling licensed-property movies that turn out to be shit as “silly” or “pulpy”. We know they’re excuses. Signed, everyone.

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2 J. August 4, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Dear Hollywood: Please cease calling licensed-property movies that turn out to be shit as “silly” or “pulpy”. We know they’re excuses. Signed, everyone.

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3 Ryan August 4, 2009 at 5:06 pm

We had to sneak into the public screening, John said it wasn’t bad.

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4 Ryan August 4, 2009 at 5:06 pm

We had to sneak into the public screening, John said it wasn’t bad.

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5 Eric Melin August 4, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Maybe that was the strategy: Lower our expectations so much that there’s no way we’ll be disappointed!

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6 Eric Melin August 4, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Maybe that was the strategy: Lower our expectations so much that there’s no way we’ll be disappointed!

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7 Justin Kendall August 4, 2009 at 5:33 pm

This was going to be bad the moment that they switched Cobra Commander’s outfit because they claim he looks too much like a Klan member. Ugh. Oh, and when they hired Stephen Sommers.

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8 Justin Kendall August 4, 2009 at 5:33 pm

This was going to be bad the moment that they switched Cobra Commander’s outfit because they claim he looks too much like a Klan member. Ugh. Oh, and when they hired Stephen Sommers.

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9 Ryan August 4, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Eric that is defiantly the way to go, if you think its trash and its just mildly good it makes it great!

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10 Ryan August 4, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Eric that is defiantly the way to go, if you think its trash and its just mildly good it makes it great!

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11 Chris August 4, 2009 at 7:36 pm

I love how they try to make “this movie would be awesome – if I were 10″ sound like it’s a glowing review.

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12 Chris August 4, 2009 at 7:36 pm

I love how they try to make “this movie would be awesome – if I were 10″ sound like it’s a glowing review.

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13 Eric Melin August 5, 2009 at 9:06 am

Chris- Totally. Pretty funny stuff.

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14 Eric Melin August 5, 2009 at 9:06 am

Chris- Totally. Pretty funny stuff.

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15 John Coovert AKA JohninKC August 5, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Wow, they really are pushing this hard in KC, one of the electronic billboards along 35 west bound had a Snake Eyes ad with “2 DAYS!!” on it. It’s maybe the second movie billboard I have EVER seen in KC.

So yeah I may not get out much but its rare (for me) to see billboard ads for films in KC.

Also, they are doing 2 promo/word of mouth screenings for this tomorrow night. I had several friends with me at the screening I attended and all said that they liked it. Further all commented that they liked it better than Transformers 2.

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16 John Coovert AKA JohninKC August 5, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Wow, they really are pushing this hard in KC, one of the electronic billboards along 35 west bound had a Snake Eyes ad with “2 DAYS!!” on it. It’s maybe the second movie billboard I have EVER seen in KC.

So yeah I may not get out much but its rare (for me) to see billboard ads for films in KC.

Also, they are doing 2 promo/word of mouth screenings for this tomorrow night. I had several friends with me at the screening I attended and all said that they liked it. Further all commented that they liked it better than Transformers 2.

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17 Joe August 10, 2009 at 3:14 am

GI Joe the movie is awesome. it focuses mainly on nanotechnology. this movie should have been made a couple of years ago.

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18 Joe August 10, 2009 at 3:14 am

GI Joe the movie is awesome. it focuses mainly on nanotechnology. this movie should have been made a couple of years ago.

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19 jone frazer August 29, 2009 at 12:41 pm

i want stills of this films pls provide it .

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20 jone frazer August 29, 2009 at 12:41 pm

i want stills of this films pls provide it .

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21 Acneguy September 7, 2009 at 10:07 am

I used to watch GI Joe animated series wayback in my childhood days. the movie version of GI Joe is definitely the best.

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22 Acneguy September 7, 2009 at 10:07 am

I used to watch GI Joe animated series wayback in my childhood days. the movie version of GI Joe is definitely the best.

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