Lorenzo di Bonaventura Responds to G.I. Joe Rumors and Accusations
Earlier this morning we ran an article about a rumor that G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra director Stephen Sommers had been fired mid-way through post-production. The story originally came from a user on the Don Murphy Message Boards. I don't want to claim that he doesn't know what he is talking about, but without additional confirmation, there's no way we can be certain any of it was true. I was awoken this morning by calls from Paramount, as they're claiming that it's all false. In order to squash the rumor, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (who is involved) answered some questions for Latino Review.
"Its very unfair to Steve, its completely untrue he was never asked to leave or been fired or any of that. That’s ridiculous. The movie tested very well." Lorenzo goes on to say that it's very hurtful to a career when a rumor like this gets out because "[Sommers] did a very good job, the movie tested well, and it couldn’t be more false that the studio in anyway did anything negatively to Steve." It's interesting that everyone is now switching sides. At first, George said "I've heard through various sources that this story is true." Jeffrey Wells said the same: "I've been told that this story about Stephen Sommers… isn't far from the truth."
I asked Paramount if they could provide a reference that I could get in touch with who would confirm that the test screening scores weren't that bad. Obviously that wasn't going to happen, but it was worth a shot. Movieline published a different report as well that doesn't seem to fall in line with either side of the story. "According to our sources, though, Sommers is not off the picture. Test screenings on G.I. Joe happened months ago and though the studio was dissatisfied, one source doubts that the film could have reached the NRG depths of past Paramount product like Marci X and Timeline." So it is bad, but not that bad?
Here's the answer from di Bonaventura when asked "So what really 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."
"Everybody was happy, the studio was happy, the filmmakers were happy, the audience was happy with the movie. 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."
He speaks a lot about how well it tested, but doesn't ever say anything about Stuart Baird being brought on-board to try and salvage the project (or Sommers being kicked out of the editing room). And he doesn't address the original claim that "his services were no longer needed on the film either." I'm not sure what to make of this whole situation anymore. I think Paramount really wants to salvage what little buzz the movie has (if any). And the only official source claims that it did test well and that it has improved. But we keep hearing others say that they've heard from "sources" that some of this story is true. So what's accurate?
To wrap up this update on the whole G.I. Joe fiasco, check out this interesting final claim from Movieline's Kyle Buchanan. "We’re hearing that there has been tension between Sommers and the studio, and the film is being recut to better response, but Sommers is still present and most of the bad blood has been resolved. The reason for all the negativity? Sommers’ supposedly controlling nature and aspirations of Michael Bay grandeur. Paramount isn’t very high on the film but still expects it to track better than predicted." After this today, I don't know if anyone is still planning on seeing G.I. Joe at all even if this was all a big hoax.