By Sarah Sluis
The Lion King's re-release in theatres was initially considered little more than a ploy to promote the movie's upcoming Blu-ray release. The fact that the movie was in 3D didn't seem to mean much to viewers, many of whom just aren't that into 3D anymore. However, the movie landed in first place for two weeks in a row and has since extended its run and earned $80 million. Now, Disney has announced four more re-releases, but will they experience the same success as The Lion King? Probably not.
In late 2009, Disney had Beauty and the Beast 3D on its schedule to release Feb. 2, 2010. That never happened. The movie was pushed to a few more "TBD" release dates before being taken off the schedule completely. Now Disney has the movie back on its schedule for a Jan. 13, 2012, release. Most likely, Beauty and the Beast was taken off the schedule after the double feature of Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3D earned $30.5 million in its five-week run. That's not shabby for a re-release, but perhaps it wasn't enough for Disney. Now that Lion King is a success, it appears the studio is more optimistic. In fact, I predict that Beauty and the Beast will be one of the animated movies to do well in re-release. Many of The Lion King's viewers were nostalgic young adult/college student audiences who wanted to experience a childhood classic together. I even heard chatter online of people going and singing along to all the songs. Beauty and the Beast released three years before The Lion King, in 1991, so it's definitely going to be a sentimental pick for the same demographic. For similar reasons, I think the re-release of 1989's The Little Mermaid on Sept. 13, 2013 will perform strongly. Just look at the turnout and excitement for this Little Mermaid sing-along at a Brooklyn bar last year.
The other two new releases on Disney's schedule are from the CG animation era, and they will likely suffer the same fate as Disney's Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3D release. The re-release of Monsters Inc. on Jan. 18, 2013, is little more than a promotion for the upcoming Monsters University. Finding Nemo's release on Sept. 14, 2012, also seems strained--it will re-release just nine years after it first opened. I don't think that's enough time to generate nostalgia or make people wistful to see the movie on the big screen.
3D re-releases of classic 2D animated films may be an easy way for Disney to make a few extra bucks, but I don't think every movie will be a success. Older, hand-drawn animated films like Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid will fare better than newer, CG-animated films. And can I have a call for a re-release of Aladdin?