While the film had already hit some theaters the night before, raking in $2.2 million in late-night and midnight runs, G.I. Joe: Retaliation celebrated with a big Hollywood premiere on Thursday night, bringing together some of film’s biggest action stars including Bruce Willis and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
The black carpet was rolled out on Hollywood Boulevard in front of the TCL Chinese theater, where crowds of fans gathered hoping to catch a glimpse of the action sequel's stars.
The film, which follows the Joes as they fight their greatest adversaries around the globe while also dealing with threats from their own government, stars a returning Channing Tatum, Johnson, Willis and Adrianne Palicki. Tatum was the only star not to attend the Los Angeles premiere, because he's currently shooting a film in London.
Making an appearance with Willis was a new beard on his face, which he says was due to a bet with his wife.
“My wife owes me 200 dollars,” he said. “She said, ‘You’re not going to do it. You’re not going to grow that beard out.’ So I win 200 dollars.”
Willis, who plays the original Joe that the G.I. Joes are named after, said he played with the action figure as a kid, although he wasn’t aware that it was a HASBRO toy at the time.
“We used to launch G.I. Joe into the air, put him on arrows. Sometimes firecrackers were involved,” he said. “G.I. Joe could just take it."
D.J. Cotrona, who plays Flint, one of the Joes, had a similar experience with the toy when he was a kid.
“I lit a backyard on fire one time. Not on purpose,” he admitted to The Hollywood Reporter, adding that he was about 9 or 10 years old at the time.
Both Cotrona and Willis confessed that no matter how much training they had done for the film, they still "looked small" when doing scenes opposite of Johnson.
"I trained for five months. Do you know how many chickens I ate?” joked Cotrona.
For his own training regime to play Roadblock, Johnson said he did about 12 to 14 weeks of diet and conditioning planning.
"I felt that if I was going to become G.I. Joe, you gotta look the part," he said. "I grew up on the comics and the comic books and the cartoons. Roadblock, that character, no one looked like him, so it was important to look the part."
On the black carpet, CBS and Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone made a rare appearance, snapping photos with Willis, Johnson and Paramount’s Brad Grey.
Also in attendance were RZA, who plays a ninja master in the film, Bruce Willis’ daughter Rumor Willis (and boyfriend Jayson Blair of The New Normal), Molly Ringwald and Palicki’s Friday Night Lights co-star Scott Porter.
It’s been an especially long wait for director Jon M. Chu. The Paramount film was originally slated for release in June 2012, but was pushed to March 2013 so that it could be converted to 3D. Chu had shot the movie in 2D and on film.
“When we finally edited the movie, we all looked at each other and were like, ‘This should be in 3D. It would be a better movie,’” he said. “And it hurt to say we’d have to wait but at the same time I was like, ‘If we’re going to do it, we have to do it right.’”
Among the many muscled men attending the premiere and the party at the Roosevelt Hotel after the screening were two stunning women – Friday Night Lights star Palicki, who plays Lady Jaye, and Elodie Yung, who plays ninja Jinx.
Palicki wore a glamorous gold-colored Reem Acra gown at the event, chatting with plenty of her co-stars at the party after the screening.
“I wanted to feel pretty tonight,” she told THR. “It’s snug, but it’s totally comfortable. I can sit in it, which is really important.”
The party took over several rooms of the Roosevelt’s lobby, decorated with several faux-Cherry Blossom trees that had delicate silver bells hanging from their branches. In contrast to the extreme action of the masculine film, the after party had a much gentler glow about it.
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told THR that he wanted to follow up to the 2009 film to “have a bit more grittiness and a bit more tough.”
The prolific producer told THR that he isn’t already thinking about another sequel for the G.I. Joe franchise, even though the numbers from the overnight and midnight runs looked promising.
“So far, so good, but you know there’s a long way to go,” he said. “It’s really hard to make one good movie and to try to start thinking about another movie is always a dangerous thing.”
“The audience has to show up. Then we get to play again if they do,” he added.
Email: Rebecca.Ford@thr.com; Twitter: @Beccamford