As proof positive that moviegoers everywhere are eager for Quality Movies, Quality Stories, and Quality Acting, Jon M. Chu's G.I. Joe: Retaliation, “the year's first blockbuster” according to distributor Paramount Pictures, opened to the tune of $132 million at the worldwide box office in the last week of March – the biggest global opening of 2013.
The Hollywood Reporter quoted Paramount's vice chairman Rob Moore as saying that the $130 million-budgeted G.I. Joe: Retaliation's 3D conversion and added scenes got the action movie “to a great place,” hence its international success. That “great place” currently has a downright rotten 21 percent approval rating and 4.4/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics, but I guess you just can't please everyone. By the way, the G.I. Joe: Retaliation reshoots were reportedly done to enhance the participation of co-lead Channing Tatum following his box office success opposite Rachel McAdams in The Vow and opposite Jonah Hill in 21 Jump Street.
'G.I. Joe: Retaliation' box office: Somewhat underwhelming in North America
Now, G.I. Joe: Retaliation's global box office success wasn't uniform. The Channing Tatum / Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. The Rock) / Bruce Willis combo did what amounts to solid though hardly outstanding business in North America, debuting with a 3D-surcharge-boosted $51.7 million after four days in release (including late Wednesday evening and midnight shows) at 3,719 locations, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. On the Easter weekend proper (March 29-31), G.I. Joe: Retaliation scored an estimated $41.2 million.
That places G.I. Joe: Retaliation in the second slot for Easter weekend openings in the U.S. and Canada, right behind – or rather, quite some ways behind – Louis Leterrier / Sam Worthington's Clash of the Titans' $61.23 million in 2010. Note: Clash of the Titans opened on late Thursday evening; so direct comparisons to G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which blew off some steam on late Wednesday / all-day Thursday, aren't exactly fair.
Oh, but wait! (Ignore this paragraph if you live on a planet where inflation doesn't exist.) Adjusted for 2013 ticket prices (based on Box Office Mojo's chart), G.I. Joe: Retaliation is actually no. 5 on the Easter weekend domestic box office chart, trailing not only Clash of the Titans, but also David Zucker / Anna Faris' comedy Scary Movie 4 (approx. $49 million), Andy and Lana Wachowski / Keanu Reeves' sci-fier The Matrix ($approx. $44 million), and David Fincher / Jodie Foster / Kristen Stewart's thriller Panic Room (approx. $41.6m). Note: Scary Movie 4, The Matrix, and Panic Room didn't have the advantage of box office inflating 3D surcharges; in other words, they sold many more tickets than G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
And at no. 6 on the adjusted Easter weekend box office chart, Adrian Lyne's 1993 melodrama Indecent Proposal debuted with approx. $35 million at 1,694 venues – less than half the number of theaters showing G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Either way, the Robert Redford / Demi Moore / Woody Harrelson “Will You Kindly Sell Me Your Wife” flick undoubtedly sold more tickets than the G.I. Joe sequel.
'G.I. Joe: Retaliation' vs. 'G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra' box office
For comparison's sake: without the assistance of 3D surcharges, the $175 million-budgeted G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, also starring Channing Tatum, also targeting young males, and also widely lambasted by critics, scored $54.71 million on its first weekend out in early August 2009. True, that was during the summer movie season, but August isn't exactly a blockbuster bonanza month.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra went on to cume at $150.2 million in North America, plus an additional $152.3 million internationally for a worldwide total of $302.5 million. Unsurprisingly, considering that branded braindead 3D movies tend to perform remarkably well in numerous key international territories, G.I. Joe: Retaliation will easily surpass that figure. G.I. Joe: Retaliation's top international territory this weekend was Russia, with $11 million.
In North America, however, there's no chance that Sam Raimi's Oz the Great and Powerful – the year's actual first (and really, so far only) domestic blockbuster – will fall behind G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Oz the Great and Powerful, which has thus far collected $198.37 million in North America, stars James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, and Rachel Weisz.
'G.I. Joe: Retaliation' cast: The hunk, the brawny, and the shirtless
Besides the hunky Channing Tatum, the brawny Dwayne Johnson, and the shirtless D.J. Cotrona – and Bruce Willis, whose other 2013 actioner, Another Day to Die Hard, limped along in North America, but has performed remarkably well internationally – G.I. Joe: Retaliation features Jonathan Pryce (Brazil), Adrianne Palicki, Luke Bracey, Elodie Yung, Joseph Mazzello, Byung-hun Lee, Ray Park, and Ray Stevenson.
Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are credited for the G.I. Joe: Retaliation screenplay, based on the life and times of a Hasbro toy. (Not the same one that inspired the Michael Bay / Shia LaBeouf movie franchise Transformers or Peter Berg's Battleship, which is actually based not on a mere Hasbro toy, but on a Hasbro game.)
G.I. Joe: Retaliation photo featuring stud Channing Tatum, beefcake Dwayne Johnson, and shirtless D.J. Cotrona: Paramount Pictures.