Though many were rightfully skeptical of a movie based on a toyline, the Transformers franchise has become one of the highest grossing series of the last few years, with no signs of slowing down for the fourth installment. The G.I. Joe series, on the other hand, has had a bit more trouble getting off the ground. 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra grossed a so-so $302 million, and the series went through a semi-reboot with the 2013 sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation. The Jon M. Chu-directed second film fared better at the box office with $375 million worldwide, but there’s still the sense that the series hasn’t taken off just yet, so expectations are high for G.I. Joe 3.
Though we know that Chu is not returning to direct the next G.I. Joe film, movement on the pic has been fairly quiet the past few months. Steve recently spoke with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura in anticipation of the release of Transformers: Age of Extinction, and during the conversation di Bonaventura provided a status update on G.I. Joe 3. The producer revealed they’re finalizing a deal with a screenwriter now and have just started meeting with directors, adding that he hopes to be shooting by February or March 2015. Moreover, di Bonaventura discussed further expanding the role of Dwayne Johnson’s Roadblock and other new additions to the cast. Read on after the jump.
Dwayne Johnson previously said that they were hoping to start filming G.I. Joe 3 in January 2015, but di Bonaventura thinks it might be a tad later:
“G.I. Joe 3 we are trying to get going, starting early next year…I think it’ll be a little later than [January]. I think February or March is probably more realistic. We were originally shooting for January and I think it’s slid a little bit, but you never know. It’s still a little too early to tell yet.”
The producer confirmed that they don’t yet have a director, but the search has just begun in earnest:
“We’re just starting [to talk to directors]. We’re negotiating with a writer right now, and once we close that deal—which should be any moment—then we’ll have a story locked down. I’m really excited about it.”
Given his immense charisma and dedication to whatever role he takes on, Johnson has been acting as a sort of franchise-booster the past few years. With G.I. Joe 3, di Bonaventura hopes to further develop Johnson’s Roadblock:
“It’s interesting, it’s sort of an open possibility right now who could be in it outside of Dwayne [Johnson], he has to be in it. The last movie was really the set up, in a way, for Roadblock to take over. Dwayne came aboard a little late last time so we weren’t able to do everything I think we can do this time, and really get a story that services what the audience expects out of him, and also as an actor pushes him into areas that you wouldn’t normally explore in a big franchise movie perhaps. We have not talked about any other cast or anything, because we really need a story to be completely signed off by everybody.”
“One thing is for sure: there were some characters the fans were really shouting for us to put in, we’re gonna put in a few one of the ones that they know that would be new to the movie audience if they don’t know the mythology.”
Finally, in talking about his approach to the follow-up, di Bonaventura is seemingly looking to steer clear of some of the pitfalls the last two films might have encountered:
“The hardest thing in film, I think, is to reduce something to something simple. You want it to be smart, you want it to have all this complexity, you want to do all these things which sometimes makes it all so confusing. How do you boil something down until you have sort of an essential construct that the audience can connect to, understand, and then we’re allowed to go crazy with it? This time we have a very clear, very defined, tight idea that I wish I had on every sequel I’ve ever worked on. Simple’s the hardest to get to.”
Though I’m not sure over-complexity was G.I. Joe: Retaliation’s biggest issue, it’s encouraging to see di Bonaventura is focused on making sure G.I. Joe 3 isn’t just more of the same. If anything can get me excited for a G.I. Joe follow-up, it’s the promise of more Dwayne Johnson.
Look for more from Steve’s interview with di Bonaventura on Collider soon, and if you missed what he had to say about Five Against a Bullet and Deepwater Horizon, click here.