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We'll say this for the "G.I. Joe" franchise: It's certainly resilient.
Case in point: According to Deadline, "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" director Jon M. Chu has just signed on to return for "G.I. Joe 3" despite the fact that none of the film's stars appear to be committed to the movie yet. Hey, you gotta start somewhere.
Not that a lack of stars — or buzz or positive reviews — has hurt the franchise so far. Original "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" star Channing Tatum, after all, bowed out of the series about eight seconds into "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," much to the surprise and chagrin of the millions of ladies who flocked to the theater to see his abs in 3D. Instead, the sequel replaced him with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Bruce Willis.
Whether or not either of those stars will be returning for "G.I. Joe 3" is unknown, but if not, no doubt Paramount and MGM will simply sign on some more bankable international stars. And make no mistake, it's the international market Chu is targeting. It's notable that while this spring's "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" was considered to be a much bigger success in most quarters than 2009's "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," the original actually earned $150 domestically while the sequel brought in just $121 million. But thanks to the worldwide fanbase for Willis and Johnson, overseas figures were high enough to more than make up the difference.
All of which puts Chu, who once was known for dance movies ("Step Up Revolution") and concert films ("Justin Bieber: Never Say Never"), in the catbird seat. After all, once you've killed off your lead and still turned a profit, it certainly frees you up to make whatever changes — creative or cost-cutting — you want. "G.I. Joe 3" may not turn out to be any good, but with Chu at the helm, it appears they've at least figured out a formula to make money.
And in Hollywood, that's the other half of the battle.