While two well-intentioned big-budget attempts have been made, the G.I. Joe film franchise just hasn't been able to cross the barrier from admirably successful action film to dominant box office kingpin. Still, the Joe series definitely has passionate fans, and neither The Rise of Cobra or Retaliation was even close to a bomb. Will G.I. Joe 3 finally break through the blockbuster glass ceiling? Maybe, but it will have to do it without the aid of Retaliation director Jon M. Chu.
Chu is reportedly the frontrunner to direct Now You See Me 2, and during a recent interview, Joe producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura officially confirmed that he and Paramount are on the hunt for both a new director and new screenwriter for G.I. Joe 3.
Paramount revealed last week that it intends to have the next G.I. Joe live-action film installment in theaters by 2016, though Bonaventura informed Collider that the search to find a replacement for Chu (who was previously set to take the helm), has only just gotten underway:
“We’re just starting [to talk to directors]. We’re negotiating with a writer right now, and once we close that deal—which should be any moment—then we’ll have a story locked down. I’m really excited about it.”
This will now mark the third straight Joe film with a different creative team at the helm, which really drives home the fact that Paramount realizes what they've done with the series so far just isn't enough. While The Rise of Cobra earned $302 million worldwide, and Retaliation earned a slightly healthier $375 million, those totals utterly pale in comparison to the sometimes billion dollar hauls pulled down by competing summer tentpoles. Both films have been very divisive among the fanbase as well, with many longterm Joe devotees disliking what was done to their favorite characters.
One positive in Retaliation's favor was Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's performance as Roadblock. Despite the general misgivings audience had with the film, Johnson's charismatic presence quickly became a clear asset to the franchise, similarly to how his injection into the Fast and the Furious movies helped reinvigorate that series. Thankfully, di Bonaventura is well aware of this, and has no plans to part ways with The Rock anytime soon.
"The last movie was really the set up, in a way, for Roadblock to take over. Dwayne came aboard a little late last time so we weren’t able to do everything I think we can do this time, and really get a story that services what the audience expects out of him, and also as an actor pushes him into areas that you wouldn’t normally explore in a big franchise movie perhaps."
While Johnson previously hinted that G.I. Joe 3 would commence filming in January 2015, di Bonaventura thinks February or March is a more realistic time frame. Also, di Bonaventura says that several long-demanded Joe characters will finally make their big-screen debuts in G.I. Joe 3, although he didn't confirm any specifics. Finally, when discussing the creative issues present in the first two films, di Bonaventura gave a somewhat surprising answer regarding what he thinks needs to be changed.
“The hardest thing in film, I think, is to reduce something to something simple. You want it to be smart, you want it to have all this complexity, you want to do all these things which sometimes makes it all so confusing. (...) This time we have a very clear, very defined, tight idea that I wish I had on every sequel I’ve ever worked on. Simple’s the hardest to get to.”
Of all the common complaints levied at the first two G.I. Joe films, being too complex wasn't exactly high on the grievance list. Still, if di Bonaventura's "keep it simple" philosophy leads to Joe fans finally getting the huge unequivocal hit they deserve, audiences everywhere will gladly yell out a "Yo Joe!" to celebrate.
G.I. Joe 3 is expected to be released sometime in 2016.