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.
I think business-wise re-releases make a certain amount of sense during slower periods. These things never seem to do huge amounts of attendance but since the movies have already been made and just need to be slapped on a hard drive and shipped out to theaters (or downloaded off a satellite feed as is mostly the case now) there's very little cost to the studios. The Fathom Events stuff makes even more sense because again, it doesn't cost much and it doesn't even require a theater to devote a full screen to the movie for a week. Instead a couple showtimes are dropped of whatever movie isn't doing much in the way of attendance.ReplyDelete
Yeah, we could watch all this stuff at home but some people just like an excuse to go out, and some people are just big enough fans of whatever movie is getting re-released that they feel the need to watch it on the big screen, even if it isn't film. My theater is one of the ones doing the Studio Ghibli Fest and those showings are selling a ton of tickets. Part of it I think is just the appeal of watching a movie with a bunch of people who are also fans.
Would you be excited if Draft Day was back in theaters for a week, or possibly something older like Dogfight? Would you use it as an excuse to try to introduce other people to a movie by inviting them to watch it with you? Re-releases generally don't excite me, but then if I heard that The Last Starfighter was coming to theaters for a week I know I'd be dragging people to it.
Everything you're saying makes sense. To answer your question, personally, I would be excited if Draft Day or Dogfight came back to theaters but I wouldn't try to get anyone else on board. In the past, I probably would but I'm sort at the point now where I feel like people need to find movies on their own and you can't push something on someone. Better to just say "Hey, I love Dogfight" and let them decide for themselves if they want to see it than say "You have to go with me to see Dogfight". Thanks for the comment! Really good stuff.Delete
I only get excited for re-releases if it's a movie that I really like that I never had the opportunity to see on the big screen, especially if it's something big and loud.ReplyDelete
I'm excited for the Close Encounters re-release just because I enjoy seeing these classic movies in a theater. Thanks to some Cinemark Classics screenings I've been able to see things like Psycho, Lawrence of Arabia, the Wizard of Oz, and Raiders of the Lost Ark on the big screen, and it really does elevate the experience for me. I do agree that it would be way better to have some kind of introduction or interview/Q&A to celebrate the anniversaries, but I still like the feeling that comes from getting out and going to a movie rather than chilling at home and being distracted by your phone while the movie is playing.ReplyDelete
It depends on the theater, I guess. I saw the Jurassic Park 3d rerelease in 2013, and enjoyed it. It had a weeklong release, played 3 times a day. I saw it on a Wednesday night, and the theater was pretty empty. Everyone shut up, and it was great.ReplyDelete
But I also went to a Jaws 40th anniversary screening 2 years ago. It only had 2 showings total, so the theater was packed. And a lot of people thought that, since pretty much everyone had already seen it, it was okay to interact with the screen. I was very irritated, and left the second Bruce blew up. Something about a rerelease enables narcissists to be on their worst behavior.
I'll probably see the T2 rerelease, depending on where it shows. I don't think I'll enjoy myself tho.
There are only a handful of re-releases that could lure me to a theater, when a movie ticket is just about the cost of a new blu-ray of the same, but T2 is one of them. I've never seen it in theaters, and I'm genuinely pumped for the 3D conversion. (Again, there's a darn short list of movies I'd care about seeing converted, but that's one of them. The Mummy '99 would be another, and maybe Raiders.)ReplyDelete
I know I'll be there!Delete
It's kinda weird that I feel like I know you well enough to deeply understand just how excited 9-year-old Riske was about that theatre dog. I guess that speaks to your talent as a writer.ReplyDelete
Yeah it's hard to imagine the re-release being a big hit these days - I do like the idea of it maybe exposing a new audience to something great but does it really attract people who aren't already fans? I am a bit bummed that The Lion King isn't coming out here cuz I'd totally take my kid to see it (the blu-ray is his new favourite thing) but after watching Jaws in a basically empty theatre I can understand why it's not.
I wish I could write for a hot dog blog but Patrick is lazy.Delete
I live an hour outside of "Disney Springs" and have a lot of special memories in that theater too.ReplyDelete
I sat through 27 hours of Marvel movies to be dissapointed by Age of Ultron. Although in my sleep-deprived mind, I couldn't differentiate the excitement of finishing the marathon and the "ehh" reaction to the ultimate film so it didn't really matter.
Then last december me and my first-serious girlfriend went to see La La Land in the dine in theater. The combination of that movie, the ridiculously over priced chicken strips, and making out in the car at the top of the parking garage made it a top movie memory for sure.
Also, it's funny you lament it not being Pleasure Island, while my generation laments it not being called Downtown Disney. Why can't things stay the same as when we first knew them?
I used to not care much about studio re releases because we had a very popular film society that showed viewings all the time and was with fellow cinefiles and fans alike. There was discussion and introductions. Now we don't have it anymore so I grasp at anything special I can go to.ReplyDelete
Honestly, seeing old movies in a theater is one of my favorite things. When I saw Jaws in a theater (not my first time seeing the film) it was my favorite theater experience of my life and it was then I decided it was my favorite movie. Just recently I saw A Nightmare on Elm Street at the Alamo Drafthouse and it was also an incredible experience. I try to go to screenings like that from time to time because I almost always have a great time.ReplyDelete