by Adam Riske
As I was looking at the upcoming slate of summer releases, I noticed that next Friday Disney is reissuing The Lion King in theaters. The subtext of this move is that Disney doesn’t respect The Dark Tower at all. Later in the month, we are getting re-releases from other studios of Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 3D, followed by an anniversary reissue of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (which I’m not sure is opening wide or will be a one-night only event). It’s weird, right? At the beginning of the summer, I remember thinking how dead this August is looking from a box office perspective. I don’t see any movie on the horizon this month that looks to be anything other than a mid-range success (Are you going to propel The Hitman’s Bodyguard to boffo box office? Didn’t think so). So this leaves space open for studios to fill with re-releases, I guess, but as movies at home are more available than ever, does it really make sense to do that? I mean, are families going to spend $50 to see The Lion King again even if the added value is a sing-a-long edition? What if you realize that your son, Norbert, is a terrible singer or your daughter, Luciana, doesn’t like Simba Lion King as much as you liked Mufasa Lion King when you were a child? As a Disney fan, I’m sort of excited about The Lion King being re-released, because what was once a tradition for Disney has become rare in the 21st century. I like knowing I can see a classic 2D animated movie in a multiplex even for a short time and I hope The Lion King does well enough where Disney opens their precious vault and re-release more of them. But are there enough of people like me?
The T2 re-release is even stranger. The hook is that we can see it in 3D, but that trend is on the way out. This feels like an idea that would have made more sense years ago when James Cameron respected the victims of a terrible tragedy and reissued Titanic in 3D. Now even IMAX is scaling back their 3D presentations because they know the overwhelming preference of moviegoers is to see 2D in their large format theaters. Will I see Terminator 2 in late August? Yep, but that’s because I want to see the movie again in a theater. I would much rather watch it in a state-of-the-art Dolby Cinema, though, than in 3D.
Quick digression to add word count: I just remembered that back in July 1991, I saw a re-release with my mom of the classic Disney animated feature 101 Dalmatians at what was called the Pleasure Island 10 theaters on the Walt Disney World Resort. It was a big deal because it was the first time I ever got a hot dog at a movie (I was 9) and I was blown away that a movie theater – not a baseball stadium, but a movie theater – would have hot dogs. I loved that theater so much (it’s still there in what is now called Disney Springs, but it’s not the same). The Pleasure Island 10 could make any movie seem like the most exciting movie ever made just because it was playing there. I bring up my 101 Dalmatians viewing because at the time the movie I wanted to see more than any other was Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which would later become my first R-rated movie I saw in theaters. I distinctly remember telling my mom I was going to the bathroom during 101 Dalmatians, and then sneaking into T2 for a 30 second peek on my way back. I walked in at the part where Arnold’s T-800 was shot to shit and walking out of Skynet firing that tear gas cannon gun at the cops. Between the images and the immaculate sound design, my mind was blown.