G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra may not have won any battles with audiences or critics when it was released in the summer of 2009, but that didn't stop it from raking in an impressive worldwide box office gross of over $300 million. As far as Hollywood is concerned - that's a victory.
When you consider the additional revenue garnered from home video sales and the endless array of merchandising tie-ins, it's easy to see why Paramount promptly pushed G.I. Joe 2 into development. Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland, Deadpool) were brought on board last year to write the screenplay and in August it was revealed that Stephen Sommers would return to the director's chair.
Sommers was always a controversial choice amongst fans and he generally receives the lion's share of the blame for how the first G.I. Joe turned out. The 2007 writer's strike certainly couldn't have helped matters, but take a look at Sommers' filmography and you'll see that most of the film's shortcomings are present and accounted for in just about every project he's had a hand in.
Not surprisingly, the news that he'd be calling the shots on G.I. Joe 2 wasn't met with a great deal of enthusiasm. However, if you were ready to dismiss the sequel for that reason alone - don't write it off just yet. Evidently, that announcement may have been premature. According to 24 Frames, Sommers won't be signing up for another tour of duty:
Two agents who represent other filmmakers have said they'd recently been approached about their clients coming on to helm the movie and were told that Sommers would not be getting behind the camera. Paramount declined to comment.
There's currently no information on the identity of these other filmmakers or what caused Sommers and Paramount to part ways, but it's hard to imagine that anyone's going to be terribly disappointed by this development. Sommers was also reportedly working on a live-action Tarzan film, so perhaps it was simply a matter of choosing one over the other. I suppose we'll have to wait and see if G.I. Joe 2 still manages to make its proposed summer 2012 release date.
I know there are a few people who took G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra for what it was and enjoyed it as goofy, escapist fun. The truth is, I didn't really care about the film one way or another. I grew up playing with G.I. Joe toys and I'm sure I watched the cartoon, but it wasn't something that continued to resonate with me as I grew up.
My reservations had nothing to do with the radical departures they made from the source material or other dubious creative decisions - I just wasn't that entertained by it. I definitely have my fair share of guilty pleasures when it comes to movies, but G.I. Joe is one I absolutely could not get into.
I'm not at all adverse to the idea of G.I. Joe 2. Even those that found something to like about the first one would probably admit there's plenty of room for improvement. Is moving on without Sommers an important first step in the right direction? My opinion is that it certainly couldn't hurt. Still, at this point I wonder how much of the film's tone has already been established.
And again, as far as Paramount is concerned G.I. Joe worked - so I don't think it's a stretch to assume that they'll be following a similar formula with G.I. Joe 2.
Source: 24 Frames.