What’s the big deal? Paramount has decided not to show any advanced screenings for this Friday’s anticipated blockbuster, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. According to Yahoo News, only a choice few from various websites and publications have seen the movie, which we highlighted in our GI Joe Early Review post. For the most part the critics were kind, so what gives? Why is the studio hiding one of the most anticipated tent pole projects of the summer?

The studio is giving us the patriotic act, in the literal sense. They’ve decided to focus on moviegoers who reside in the “heartland” of America. In other words, people who live outside of New York and Los Angeles. They’ve arranged several screenings for soldiers and heroes of war, such as the one they held last Friday for 1,000 military service members and their families at Andrews Air Force Base. Some people are speculating that this change in direction might have to do with the critical beating Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen took over a month ago. Paramount vice-president Rob Moore says that there’s definitely a method to this madness.

“`G.I. Joe’ is a big, fun, summer event movie — one that we’ve seen audiences enjoy everywhere from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to Phoenix, Ariz. After the chasm we experienced with `Transformers 2′ between the response of audiences and critics, we chose to forgo opening-day print and broadcast reviews as a strategy to promote `G.I. Joe.’ We want audiences to define this film.”

The Transformers comparison has been rearing it’s ugly head since day one. These are two Hasbro based films that are driven by special effects and futuristic technology. It sounds as if the studio wants to tap into the old school G.I Joe fan base to drive the flick to the top of the box office.

According to box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian, They don’t need (to screen) it and there’s no upside to negative reviews. The film is going to open well no matter what,” Dergarabedian said. “They’re being very strategic in who they show the movie to. If they can win over their core audience from these reviews, that’s good for the movie.”

The film has a steady 80% rating on the Tomatometer via the Rotten Tomatoes website. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is clocking in with 20%. Obviously, Paramount is a bit shaken from their earlier blockbuster venture, even though they still made a ridiculous amount of money on it. Does this mean that studios do care if a film’s content is garbage? That’s crazy talk! Either way, G.I Joe: Rise of Cobra hits theaters this Friday, and you’ll be able to make that decision for yourself.

Do you think it’s a good idea for Paramount to keep critics away from G.I. Joe?