You didn’t really think they killed Storm Shadow at the end of GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, did you? Good bad guys always come back, and the all-white ninja (he’s so badass he isn’t even trying to hide in the shadows!) is no exception. Lee Byung-Hun (soon to be seen in Fantastic Fest favorite I Saw The Devil) has signed up to come back. He’ll be shooting in June, so expect to find out who is directing GI Joe 2 sometime soon.
This, by the way, is a hard confirmation that GI Joe 2 is happening and not just sort of being endlessly developed. The film was greenlit after the original hit theaters, but at the time it seemed like a PR greenlight - Paramount wanted to show support for the film, which opened to okay business. The movie only manages to make 150 million in the US against a 175 million budget; the movie’s total international take ended up being 300 million. These aren’t great numbers by any means, but either the film found a second life on home video (a la Batman Begins or Austin Powers) or Paramount has decided it’s worth the investment to take another crack at making this a franchise.
But Paramount’s going to have to cut costs this time. 175 is too much, and even with a better director than Stephen Sommers onboard - and even with a semi-franchise reinvention - they can’t spend that. Where do they cut? Do some of the actors from the first film not come back? I’m hoping Joseph Gordon Levitt is locked in tight, because I’m dying to see him do a full on Cobra Commander.
This, by the way, is the kind of story that can give hope to the fans of Tron: Legacy. That film will slightly outgross GI Joe, but it costs more (despite the numbers Disney claims); if Tron can hit a certain number (known only to the decision makers at Disney) and can justify another crack at the franchise it, like GI Joe, will come back for seconds. The big difference, though, is that Paramount is trusting in a proven property - GI Joe has name recognition and a following. They’re hoping that will bring people back to theaters for the second film. Disney, meanwhile, has an almost empirically unsound property. The original Tron bombed and the sequel hasn’t gained much traction in what has been a very, very quiet month at the movies. Disney is doing the opposite of Paramount - rather than rely on a solid brand, they’re trying to create one with sheer willpower.
It’ll be interesting following both properties. A couple of years ago I don’t know that studios would have kept coming back to such seemingly poisoned wells, but these are tough times for creativity in the movie business.