Another smart play was the decision not to use that nine month delay to do extensive reshoots. It's a mistake we see all too often, to little avail. As I said above, G.I. Joe: Retaliation isn't very good. But it can be debated how much better it could have been with reshoots, since the film is what the film is regardless. For example, Universal made a very different choice with The Wolfman in 2010. Joe Johnston's werewolf horror drama was scheduled to be released in November of 2008 at a cost of around $90 million. Cut to February 2010 and the heavily reshot The Wolfman, now at a cost of $150 million, opens to what should have been a decent $32 million opening weekend over Valentine's Day weekend. But since the film cost $150 million instead of $90 million, its final $142 million gross was not just a disappointment but a catastrophic flop. Would Universal have not been better off just releasing the mediocre werewolf movie they had in late 2008 as opposed to the mediocre werewolf movie they had in 2010 at a cost of an additional $60 million? Paramount had nine months to tinker with G.I. Joe: Retaliation, but they chose not to. Aside from one brief (and special effects-free) new scene involving Dwayne Johnson and Channing Tatum playing video games together, the film that was released last week is the same film as was intended to be released in June of 2012.
What the studios realized is that the film they had was "good enough" to successfully market as a pre-summer would-be blockbuster. They knew that the 3D conversion (which probably cost around $15 million) would pay for itself and then-some in foreign box office and decided to basically leave the film it was. They resisted the urge to insert more second and third-act scenes of rising star Channing Tatum, because the film was never intended to be sold on his emerging bankability. They knew that it had the G.I. Joe brand and action stars like Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis. Speaking of which, that's the other thing Paramount did right: movie stars + concept. People like to scream how the movie star is dead, but it's more complicated that that. Long-story short, you need a combination of stars *and* concept. Paramount knew that the film was "good enough" (IE - it had enough trailer-friendly moments) to garner a strong opening weekend. The studio knew that it was pointless and counter-productive to throw tens-of-millions of dollars in order to slightly improve what was always going to be a B-movie action picture based on a line of toys.
Paramount and MGM kept the budget low enough so that G.I. Joe 2 didn't need to be a record-setting smash in order to be profitable. The studio knew not to spend additional countless millions when the film they had was perfectly acceptable for mass consumption. They had the 3D conversion (an extra expense that paid for itself almost instantly) for overseas audiences, plus the media-friendly movie stars who could successfully plug the film in various outlets. They knew what they had and what they didn't need. As any G.I. Joe fan can tell you, knowing is half the battle. Of course, since we are getting a G.I. Joe 3, maybe next time they can make a better movie. Yo Joe?