/Film has spotted an interesting development over the Twitter account of actress Rachel Nichols, who played Scarlett in G.I. Joe. Nichols dropped a bomb when she revealed that Paramount isn't bringing back much of the principal cast of G.I. Joe 1 for G.I. Joe 2, the sequel which is being directed by Jon Chu and written by Zombieland scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.
So who is coming back for the next G.I. Joe? And what does this development mean about how the sequel is being approached? We'll discuss.
First off, we'll discuss which cast members are coming back. According to Nichols' Tweet, the only characters from the first film coming back for the sequel are Snake Eyes (Ray Park), Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun), and Duke (Channing Tatum).
This would mean that G.I. Joe team members like Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Scarlett (Nichols), Breaker (Said Taghmaoui), Ripcord (Marlon Wayans), and General Hawk (Dennis Quaid) won't be back, as well as Cobra members Destro (Christopher Eccleston), The Doctor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Zartan (Arnold Vosloo). We already knew that Sienna Miller wouldn't be reprising her role as The Baroness.
To be honest this news doesn't upset me that much - Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes were the only even mildly interesting part of G.I. Joe for me, and Duke is clearly coming back since he is the protagonist of the whole story. I always love to see AAA onscreen, but even Heavy Duty was somewhat irrelevant to the plot of the first film. However, unless new team members (read: more affordable actors) are being brought into play, having Duke and Snake Eyes vs. Storm Shadow and Whoever does not constitute a "G.I. Joe movie." If you don't have the Joe squad and certain iconic villains (Cobra Commander), all you've really got is a flick that's G.I. Joe in name only.
/Film speculates that this drastic reduction in the cast is a likely indicator that Paramount is approaching G.I. Joe 2 on a much smaller scale than the first installment (smaller cast, more affordable director), similar to the way that Columbia Pictures is making Ghost Rider 2 for a fraction of what the first film cost, and with cost-effective directors. Both G.I Joe and Ghost Rider were films that managed to turn a profit (thanks in large part to the international market), though in both cases, the profits earned were apparently not strong enough for the respective studios to want to roll the dice twice on these sequels. Each sequel has been touted as a quasi-reboot of sorts for the respective franchises - in G.I. Joe's case, that "fresh start" approach was indicated by recent comments from the Hasbro CEO, who stated that audiences would not need to see G.I. Joe 1 to understand G.I. Joe 2.
Obviously the studios are hoping the brand recognition combined with the lower cost of the films will make the profit margins even higher, but it remains to be seen whether these films will actually turn out well enough to attract the necessary viewers, returning customers and new recruits alike. Not doubting either of the directors (Chu on G.I. Joe 2, and Crank duo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor on Ghost Rider 2), just saying that there is still a lot to prove here.
What do you think about G.I. Joe 2 shedding cast members? The film is slated to hit theaters in 2012.