No go, Joe

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

Members of the elite G.I. JOE team from left include team leader

LOS ANGELES — 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 websites 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.”

With a reported production budget of US$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 Transformerssequel.

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 per cent 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-per cent 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.”

Just Posted

Alberta hiring more paramedics and buying new ambulances, none for Red Deer

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is not concerned the provincial government didn’t… Continue reading

‘My nightmare began again’: Close call as bus carrying Humboldt crash survivor rear-ended

CALGARY — A terrifying ordeal for Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki this… Continue reading

Halifax airport operations normalize after Boeing 747 runway overshoot

HALIFAX — The Halifax Stanfield International Airport has resumed normal operations a… Continue reading

Bentley family left without a home grateful for community support

Central Albertans are coming together to support a Bentley family left homeless… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP ready for new mandatory alcohol screening law

Red Deer RCMP are ready to enforce a new law intended to… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer and District Kennel Club Dog Show at Westerner Park

The Red Deer and District Kennel Club is holding a dog show… Continue reading

Pence aide out of running to be Trump’s next chief of staff

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top pick to replace chief of staff… Continue reading

Swath of South faces wintry mess: Snow, sleet, freezing rain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain… Continue reading

‘I killed my best friend’: Opioids’ fatal grip on mayor, pal

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

Brothers, 20, face second-degree murder charge in death of teen: police

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Police west of Toronto say two brothers have been… Continue reading

A young mayor, his friend, and a fatal attraction to opioids

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

GM fights to retain key tax credit amid plant closing plans

WASHINGTON — General Motors is fighting to retain a valuable tax credit… Continue reading

TTC union asks provincial government to step in on transition to Presto

TORONTO — The union representing transit workers in Canada’s most populous city… Continue reading

Small pot growers find roadblocks on path to microcultivation licences

Yan Boissonneault’s daughter was turning blue. Without warning, his baby had stopped… Continue reading

Most Read