I’ll Be Back: Re-Releasing Films in Theaters
The first time I saw any Star Wars film was in the theater. I was twelve years old and Return of the Jedi was playing in the city. Of course, being the third film in a trilogy, I didn’t have the slightest clue what was going on, but I enjoyed it anyway. Now to some people, that makes me older than I look, since Return of the Jedi came out before I was even born. When I saw Return of the Jedi, it was in the late nineties. The films were being re-released to theaters to be shown on the big screen.
This was a really neat concept when I was a kid, but not so much now. What I thought was a rare occurrence has now become commonplace. The question is, why? Here are some of the reasons why I think the re-released film is not only gaining more ground, but will be here to stay as a permanent piece of film format.
There’s just something about seeing a film on the big screen. Maybe it’s the picture. Maybe it’s the surround sound, the popcorn, or even the feel of movie theater seats. Perhaps it’s our underlying sense of thinking that bigger is always better. I always find myself thinking that even my favorite movies, the movies I’ve seen countless times, must be better on the big screen. I feel that the people who go to the theater to see a re-released film probably have the same viewing habits that I do. If we come across a popular film while channel surfing, will stop to watch it. It doesn’t matter that we’ve seen the film 100 times before. We just love the film for film’s sake. I guess it would be better to compare it to seeing a print of a famous painting versus seeing the real thing in a museum. The copy is great and the quality is there, but there’s just something about seeing that original product that can’t be beat.
For some reason, any time I hear that a movie is coming back to theaters, I hear the cha-ching! of a slot machine. Hollywood is constantly producing movies, so why would they want to re-release a film to take up room in a theater, especially a film that people have already seen? Whatever reason that Hollywood has for doing this, it’s obviously working. Theaters all over my country and yours are constantly re-screening films that have already been released. For some, that’s twice within the last ten years! Now that this is becoming a popular source of revenue, filmmakers are going to think twice before throwing out those additional reels of film. It’s almost the perfect deal if you think about it. The film has already been made and released to the audiences. There is no need to worry about critics, or making back the money anymore, or dealing with the possibility of a box office flop. The film has already been released so any revenue comes in from a re-release can only boost the finances up from there. There’s only one real catch: you need to have fans to see it. Fortunately, in an industry like Hollywood’s, you’ll always have plenty of those.
Nobody knows loyalty like a film fanbase (except for maybe our close relative, the TV fanbase). Movie fans can range from Mildly Interested to Film Appreciator to Captain Continuity. We become so drawn into these films that they become a part of us. We relate to them, we feel for the characters, we escape into the story. For us, re-releases are those second chances to re-create the magic of the movies. For others, it’s about sharing those magical moments with the people we love for the first time. Parents taking their kids to see movies that they saw in theaters when they were younger. Friends taking other friends to see that one movie that they might have missed. Some of us love movies because of what they’re about, or how they make us feel. Maybe we like an actor, or a director, or even the type or genre of film. But there are those who just like movies for being movies. Those are the people who will see a movie again on the big screen because it’s the big screen. They want to see it as others would have seen it the first time it was released. Whether you agree or not, there’s a magic in that. So even though we’ve seen movies like The Little Mermaid and Star Wars and Indiana Jones and Back to the Future more than once, we’ll see them again on the big screen. As fans, it’s just what we do, and as long as we do, Hollywood will continue to re-release films.
The latest craze in the world of re-releases is the 3-D film. Ever since the first 3-D film came out years ago, every studio has been trying to incorporate it into its films. Every major blockbuster of the last few years has been featured in 3-D. Call it a craze, but the audiences seem to love it. It only makes sense then to take a second look at some classic films and see which of them would benefit from a 3-D makeover. After finding a few, and after applying said 3-D makeover, you might as well re-release them into theaters. In some cases, it’s like seeing the movie for the first time again. In addition to this, the novelty of seeing these films not only again but with advanced technology is often a very prominent pull. When I found out that they were re-releasing The Lion King again, my first thought was how great the wildebeest scene would be with the 3D effects. It didn’t matter that I had already seen it. The possibility of any kind of enhanced viewing to an already excellent movie was enough for me.
Whether improved or not, the concept is popular enough that it is working, and probably will until the next big thing comes along.
What do you think of re-releasing films? Good idea, bad idea, or who cares? Tweet me a comment or leave your mark below.