Rumor: Stephen Sommers Fired From G.I. Joe?

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A number of sites today are pushing forward the story that G.I. Joe director Stephen Sommers has been locked out of the film’s editing room, based on a post from film producer Don Murphy’s message board (now removed), as noticed by Latino Review. The story is picking up steam, in part thanks to vaguely corroborative posts by people like Jeff Wells. And while I can’t verify the story, I have heard several really bad things about the film from a few informed sources. Common word is that it is a disaster for Paramount, and that a lot of unplanned post-production work was done to amp up the action and excitement factors and possibly just to make the thing watchable. Details of the original post from Murphy’s message board after the jump.

The condensed version goes like this: A disastrous test screening led production exec Brad Weston to push for Sommers’ firing. Stuart Baird was brought in to rework the edit, while producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura was also let go from the project. (di Bonaventura getting the boot seems unlikely.) There’s a lot of talk in the post about how di Bonaventura and Sommers didn’t know anything about ‘the mythology’ and how that led (somehow) to the ruin of the film. The ‘didn’t know the mythology’ argument seems like a fanboy straw man as the issue doesn’t seem to be that the movie is bad by GI Joe standards, but by any standard. Jeff Wells quotes an unnamed source that says Sommers “was given total freedom but he melted down and has made the biggest bomb in many a moon.” Again, not a bad GI Joe movie, but a bad movie, period.

If Paramount had a solid action movie on their hands that wasn’t going to please the franchise’s core base, the studio could still do fine marketing it to the mass audience that doesn’t really care, as long as things are blowing up and Sienna Miller is wearing leather. Meanwhile, I have zero concern over the film one way or the other. Despite a basket full of bad efforts, I’m still willing to hope, no matter how unlikely it seems, that the Stephen Sommers of Deep Rising will show himself once again. And there’s always Joseph Gordon-Levitt to anticipate as Cobra Commander, dumb mask and all.

Update: Refutation or damage control? Latino Review spoke to Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who had this to say:

…it’s completely untrue he was never asked to leave or been fired or any of that. That’s ridiculous. The movie tested very well…We had three test screenings, three different times and tested it and each time it just got better and better. We started off in a good place and we ended up in even in a better place, which is what you hope on a film from testing it.

And on what happened in the editing room:

Nothing that doesn’t happen on every other movie, which is that you constantly work and work and work and you make it better and better. We had a delay on visual effects so we waited a long time to finish the movie but that’s the only thing. I don’t really know why that would be interpreting it negatively but I guess it was.

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