Tuesday, April 9, 2013

3-D Re-Releases: What's the Point? Does it Work? And is Disney Trying to Control it all?

First there were sequels, the re-makes, and re-boots now re-releasing films in 3-D is the trend in Hollywood.  Re-releasing classic films has been done for years.  There are cult following of classic movies which show on a regular basis in major cities, for films like Rocky Horror Picture Show, and The Sound of Music (sing-a-long).  Grease attempted this sing-along for one of it's anniversaries as well.  At one of my local theatres in Boston, Coolidge Corner, they play cult classics in a series at Midnight every Friday and Saturday.  I saw Mean Girls there, but they typically do smaller more obscure films, or films with tremendous fan bases.  The point of all these re-releases or "showings" is never really for the sake of commercial value, but rather to celebrate the art of film or to support a films fan base.

This current trend of re-releasing films in 3-D seems to do the exact opposite.  Not to say that these re-releases do not have strong fan bases, because Disney/Pixar films, Titanic, Star Wars, and Jurassic Park have some of the largest fan bases, but this move from studios attempts to be one to bolster easy commercial success.  Understandable!

The list below are the films I could find/remember being re-released in 3-D:

The Lion King 3-D-94 million

Titanic 3-D- 57 Million
Beauty and the Beast 3-D-47 million
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3-D-43 million
Finding Nemo 3-D-41 million
Monsters, Inc 3-D- 31 million

Jurassic Park 18 million (opened 4/5/13)

The Lion King may have not been "the first" but it was the most successful  and the only 3-D re-release I actually ended up going to see.  Titanic was a moderate success adding another 57 million to its large box office haul (still not toppling Avatar).  The rest of the films scored under 50 million, which is not awful although I would categorize Monsters, Inc. as a flop.  I think Disney specifically releasing classics has been a bit more successful, but the proof will be in the pudding when they re-release The Little Mermaid this fall.

I think if done right this can be fun, and I have heard from friends that people who Jurassic Park most recently that this one great film experience.  Part of the reason for creative success for this film paticularly is the way Steven Spielberg pushed the limits with his camera work that allow this to be one hell of an experience in theatres.  I may see this re-release myself.  I personally think the 3-D re-release works best for animation because the style, but Jurassic Park may be the exception, and Monsters Inc.'s box office total may be the proof I am wrong.

Yet to my question in the title, "What's the point?"  I think for the sake of looking at Jurassic Park I can say it's a smart move on two levels one the film's fan base deserves the 3-D treatment, and it's a great build up for the fourth film.  From my one friend Karl who saw the film already he stated that the fear of the T-Rex scene was even greater due in large part to the 3-D technology.  I also think it's smart to get people's minds back on this franchise, and excited for the new film.

I am curious at Disney/Pixar's model for re-release, why Lion King first?  No complaints because it worked financially.  Why not do it chronologically?  They do appear to be going backwards (although skipping my favorite Aladdin) with it going Lion King, Beauty and the Beast then Little Mermaid this fall. I think Little Mermaid will score on the same level as Beauty and the Beast (money wise) posing the question is this trend worth the time?

I would add that the Phantom Menace and Monster's Inc. would help pose this larger question either is this worth the time, or should they just be more selective.  Star Wars has a huge fan base, and who would have thought it's total would have been beat by both Titanic and Beauty and the Beast?  Lucasfilm had planned to re-release the first three in the series every year after, Clones in 2013, and Sith in 2014, but this plan has been scrapped

An official statement from Lucasfilm stated the following:

"Lucasfilm has decided to postpone this fall's scheduled release of Star Wars Episodes II and III in 3D. Given the recent development that we are moving forward with a new Star Wars trilogy, we will now focus 100 percent of our efforts on Star Wars: Episode VII in order to ensure the best possible experience for our fans. We will post further information about our 3-D release plans at a later date."

With Lucasfilm also owned by Disney (are you sensing a pattern?) "choosing to focus on the new franchise" this poses the question is this trend just a passing fad?  Monster's Inc. and it's re-release was timed in order to prep for the prequel Monster's University this summer, and I think Pixar thought they had a sure fire holiday family hit on their hand, but this film tanked.

Of the films which have been re-released only two do not come from a Disney company, Titanic and Jurassic Park.  Which poses the question that I have always had how much is Disney going to milk me for?  Disney and their "vault" or special releases, it's enough to make me sick.  Off my soap box and done with my rant.  I think this trend has valid merits, but should not be done just for the sake of it.  Not at all studios are doing this to gain a quick extra buck, but that's what this seems like.  These re-releases do not feel like a small intimate experience for fans, but rather a grasp for money from studios who want to pad their books.

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