August 4, 2009 / 11:40 PM / 10 years ago

"G.I. Joe" is AWOL for critics

Actor Dennis Quaid reacts as he departs from the "Village At The Lift" during the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 21, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In a highly unusual move, Paramount will open its big summer movie “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” on Friday without screening it beforehand for critics or other media.

Studio executives say they are trying to protect “Joe” from the kind of critical savaging unleashed on its recent “Transformers” sequel.

Not that the toxic reviews have affected its box office: “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” is the biggest movie of the year so far, with worldwide sales of $810 million.

Further, must-see interest for the first pure action movie in weeks is so high that many industryites foresee a $50 million opening weekend for “Joe.” Generally, pictures are kept from critics when it’s feared that poor reviews additionally will hamper an opening that’s already challenged by underwhelming public interest.

“Joe” totes a reported negative cost of $175 million after a production arduous enough to spur ultimately erroneous reports of director Stephen Sommers being booted from the project. Its cast includes Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Sommers has said “Joe” isn’t a “Bush movie” but one more attuned to the current administration. But Paramount is giving the film a decidedly Red State marketing campaign, and the picture’s premiere was held Friday at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

Other than military personnel and focus groups, only bloggers including Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News have been shown the film, an effects-laden tale of high-tech military special ops inspired by co-producer Hasbro’s G.I. Joe action figure.

Editing by dean.goodman at Reuters

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