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

Parenting: Every woman will have a different pregnancy experience

Wife whose hormones are unbalanced can be unpleasant experience

Men posing as repo men attempt to steal vehicle in Red Deer County

Two men attempted to steal a utility vehicle from a Red Deer… Continue reading

Red Deerian spreads kindness with one card at a time

One Red Deerian wants to combat bullying by spreading kindness in the… Continue reading

Bowden baby in need of surgery

“Help for Alexis” Go Fund Me account

PHOTO: First Rider bus safety in Red Deer

Central Alberta students learned bus safety in the Notre Dame High School… Continue reading

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Women-owned businesses generate $68,000 less revenue than men’s: survey

TORONTO — When Dionne Laslo-Baker sought a bank loan to expand her… Continue reading

Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard’s alleged sex offences case returns to court

TORONTO — The case of Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard, who faces three… Continue reading

Fredericton woman recounts terrifying moments after gunshots rang out

FREDERICTON — She awoke to the crack of gunfire, the shots fired… Continue reading

Climate change likely to cause more sewage leaks, McKenna says

OTTAWA — More than one hundred municipal wastewater systems did not report… Continue reading

Woman has finger ripped off at West Edmonton Mall waterslide

SASKATOON — A Saskatchewan woman says she lost a finger after her… Continue reading

Uncertainty looms over Canada’s cannabis tourism, but ambitions are high

TORONTO — Longtime marijuana advocate Neev Tapiero is ready for the cannabis-driven… Continue reading

Feds mulling safeguards to prevent ‘surge’ of cheap steel imports into Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government extended an olive branch of sorts to… Continue reading

Ontario govt caps off summer session by passing bill to cut Toronto council size

TORONTO — The Ontario government passed a controversial bill to slash the… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month