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G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA

The Gathering Forces
With decades of success and a far-reaching fan base, it seemed only natural that G.I. JOE would make its way to the big screen. So what took so long? "Hasbro had looked at it in the past and talked to many different filmmakers,” explains Brian Goldner. ""I just don't think the company had a sense for how to tell the story, keeping the mythology intact, and help filmmakers see what's possible in a G.I. JOE versus COBRA story.”

In 2000, the company began to take a new look at ways to reinvent its brands, including G.I. JOE. "We'd been strong in the boys business. We have TRANSFORMERS, we have G.I. JOE. So we started to focus in on what kinds of stories we could tell that would matter today,” notes Goldner. 

Power-hitting Hollywood producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura and his production company, di Bonaventura Pictures, had a strong interest in the idea of a G.I. JOE film and began to pursue the project with Hasbro. "Lorenzo met with Brian Goldner, and they talked about making G.I. JOE into a big feature film,” notes executive producer Erik Howsam. Howsam himself was a G.I. JOE kid from the start. "From four years old, I grew up with not only the 12-inch G.I. JOE, but also when I was 11 years old, the reinvented G.I. JOE of the ‘80s. I'd race home from school, watch the cartoons, buy the comic books, buy all the toys. So when Lorenzo said, ‘One of the things I'm working on is G.I. JOE,' my eyes just lit up.”

Although Paramount bought the rights to G.I. JOE first, it was di Bonaventura's success with another Hasbro property, the 2007 blockbuster TRANSFORMERS, that finally got the project off the ground. TRANSFORMERS was actually the second thing we got involved with,” he recalls. "The attitude of this G.I. JOE comic book was just something a lot of people couldn't get their heads around completely.” The enormous success of TRANSFORMERS changed all that. "It was quickly apparent to everybody the kind of success you can accomplish with this kind of deep-seated mythology. Then it was, like, ‘Oh, I see, I see. I got it. Reality and fantasy mix really well together.' That's what got ‘G.I. JOE' going and Paramount has been an unbelievably supportive studio to work with in it.”

Adds executive producer David Womark, "Lorenzo's the type of guy that once he decides he's making a movie, it can be a year, it could be ten years, but the movie gets made.”

To helm such a story of both super-action and mythology, di Bonaventura approached a man who has practically recast the mold for both genres: Stephen Sommers. His deft handling of the myriad elements in the non-stop action films "The Mummy” and "The Mummy Returns,” from action-heavy set pieces, to globetrotting adventure, self-effacing humor, larger-than-life characterizations and sparring romance in between life-and-death situations, turned both films into worldwide box office gold.

"I knew all his work through ‘The Mummy' series,” says Goldner. "That's a terrific combination of the thread of mythology, but taken to a whole different place with a great action-adventure feel.” Adds di Bonaventura, "Steve is fun, energetic, and he's passionate about it.” 

The film posed a unique challenge to the director. "What sparked my interest was the notion that this would be a cross between a comic book and a James Bond film,” he says. "The idea was that we could have this giant canvas with larger-than-life characters and a great mythology that already existed in the G.I. JOE world.” What made the premise unique for Sommers was the inclusion of that mythology. "Steve absolutely understood the world of the original 12-inch G.I. JOE but, as he began to understand the G.I. JOE vs. COBRA story, he got very excited, and that really helped propel the movie,” says Goldner.

"The G.I. JOE I grew up with is a very different thing from this movie,” Sommers says. "The reinvention and reinvigorati

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