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No Go, Joe! “Retaliation” Bumped to Next March

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From the “Crap, why did ‘Battleship’ have to flop?” files: “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” will now premiere in March 2013, not late next month. And, giant surprise, you’ll be able to see Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s biceps in 3D.

“Ted,” the talking teddy bear movie from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, has been moved up into the “G.I. Joe” slot.

Take it away, THR:

Paramount sources say that for the studio to recoup its sizable investment — it financed 50 percent of the sequel, while MGM put up 25 percent and David Ellison’s Skydance Productions is backing 25 percent — a 3D conversion needs to happen, and it wants to make sure the conversion is done right. The studio is pointing to the recent 3D version of James Cameron’s “Titanic” as a success story.

Still, the movie is based on a Hasbro toy line, and some might blame the shift on the disappointing box office of Universal’s “Battleship,” the adaptation of the Hasbro board game that opened to just $25.5 million domestic last weekend. [My note: It has done well overseas.] Paramount’s first installment of the franchise, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” grossed $300 million worldwide in 2009. But the high cost of studio tentpole movies now requires big-budget releases to gross more than that.

“["Battleship"] reminds you that if you don’t do it right, you’re screwed,” says one insider.

This is a shrewd move, and not just to avoid “Battleship’s” stigma. As the box office success of “The Hunger Games” has shown, there’s nothing wrong with being the big fish in small pond. Why make $125 million, which just covers “Retaliation’s” estimated costs in super-competitive June, when you can make $200 million in March and April? Kids and young adults will be looking for something to do on spring break. Not everyone is doing body shots at Lake Havasu.

Paramount, THR reminds us, has made this kind of last-minute change before. It bumped “Shutter Island” into a winter slot, where it became Martin Scorsese’s biggest box office hit. Will history repeat itself?

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