By Rodrigo Perez | The Playlist January 13, 2013 at 12:42PM
Some potential *spoilers* may abound within this post, fyi. Let's revisit the spring of 2012. "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" isn't testing well, and Channing Tatum, who's had two films surpass the $100 million mark domestically ("The Vow," "21 Jump Street") is quickly becoming a star. It's also just one month before "Magic Mike," a starring vehicle for Tatum, will be released and go on to cross the same $100 million threshold and become one of the most profitable movies of the year thanks to an inexpensive budget. Everyone can feel there will be magic in 'Mike.' Hollywood can taste it. Paramount and 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation" producers come to the brilliant realization, "Hey! We've got Channing Tatum in our movie!"
One problem. Not only does Tatum not have a huge part in the movie, if trailers and "G.I. Joe Retaliation" posters -- wherein he is conspicuously absent -- are any indication, the actor is killed off in the first act, setting up a revenge story for the rest of the Joes and the new actors in the cast like Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, Walton Goggins, Ray Stevenson and D.J. Cotrona among others (about 90% of the cast is new and Tatum is one of the rare holdovers). This, of course, was speculation on our part, but was confirmed by a Deadline report in May (more on that in a sec).
A few weeks earlier, "G.I. Joe Retaliation" was bumped nine months from June 29th, 2012 to March 29th, 2013; and when Deadline did some digging, they discovered that the test screening indicated that audiences wanted more Tatum, and "[the studio quickly] realized what a complete miscalculation it was to kill off Channing Tatum in the sequel." So, reasons for the nine-month delay seemed obvious. Rewrite, retool, resurrect and include more Channing Tatum in 'Retaliation.' It's a shrewd move, but considering Tatum's success in 2012, it makes perfect sense.
However, in an interview with Crave Online, "G. I. Joe Retaliation" executive producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura insisted that the sequel won't have an overabundance of Tatum in the film. “No, it’s not,” di Bonaventura said about the truth of reshoots to include (and revive) Tatum. “That is a complete rumor. I don’t know where that started. Literally, Channing shot for - if I have it wrong, I’m off by an hour - four hours, five hours? So it wasn’t really about that at all.”
While the producer does admit to reshoots on the picture, he said the new version of the film is not significantly altered. “It’s not much different,” di Bonaventura says. “Literally, we shot for three extra days. We just added sort of explanation in what we did afterwards.”
So, who's telling the truth and who's not? Put it this way, Tatum may not have a signifcantly bigger role in the film, but if he conveniently doesn't die in the sequel (and therefore is available for a third film), we won't be entirely shocked. We'll find out in two months. "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" charges into theaters on March 29, 2013.