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Alexander has been contributing for THS for over a year! While he attained a major in communications at SFU, he also recieved a minor in Psychology. Despite those accomplishments, Alex has also never had a full cup of coffee (crazy right?!). Alex is a lifelong sports fan and will defend his Seattle Seahawks to the death, especially if faced against a 49er fan. While Alex's long-term goal is to become a marriage counsellor, he also has a strong passion towards writing that he looks forward to exploring.

Experiencing Cinema Again: The Value of Re-Releasing Films in Theaters

Image Credit: Remi Gletsos

Where were you for your first time? I am referring of course to the first time you got truly impacted by a movie in the theater. Mine happened when I was 7 years old and to this date it is one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. It was in May, 1997 and the sun was shining (or so we’ll assume) and I had the brilliant idea to go see a movie at the local theater. Given that I was a decently big fan of dinosaurs at the time, I decided triumphantly that I was old enough to handle The Lost World: Jurassic Park (the dreaded sequel). Yet neither safety blanket, nor stuffed animal could save me from the terror as I saw helpless humans get picked up as if they were options from a vending machine. I watched wide-eyed as a T-Rex chomped down on a truck, and I vowed to not see another movie in theaters again—that was obviously not true.  In fact not only have I seen another movie, every year I spend a shockingly high amount of time at the movies.

Whether it’s a comedy, drama or most recently horror (Annabelle, ahh!) cinema continues to hold a strong lure over me. Yet no matter how many films I see in theaters, it is rare to see a film resonate with me as strongly as some of the original classics did, and over time these classics appeal to me only seems to grow. So when my friend asked how I can pay to go watch older movies when they get re-released in theaters, I answered quite bluntly that you just can’t beat the nostalgia. I know that with technology, your phone, mp3 player, TV, VHS, and hell—one day probably even your fridge will allow you to view old cinematic classics, so why pay a theater? I argued that even if these ‘classic’ films being re-released is a cash grab as my friend points out, there is still some strong value that resides in re-watching the classic films again in the setting that they were designed for, the big screen. Depending on your age, watching these classics in theaters may also be a first time and thus a unique experience that you missed out on the first time around.  That being said, not every movie deserves a re-release: do I need to re-watch The Hangover in theaters to appreciate #2? Of course not, so if a film is going to be released in theaters again then it needs to be a ‘theater movie’, a concept I will later expand on. Cineplex, a major theater company, and renowned director/writer/producer Quinton Tarantino have both stated their backing towards the value of re-releasing cinematic classics and help provide further insight on the value of watching films in theaters in contrast to at home. And while not all films are successful or need to be shown, older cinematic pieces also gain value in the respect that they may already have a strong fan base that can help create a lasting impression and create a continual market for older classics.

Like me with JP2, people often have a movie with which they share a special connection. For many people a film that they share a bond with may quite often be older than they are. I was (thankfully) not taken to see the original Jurassic Park (I’d have been 3) and as a result, was excited to see it remastered and re-released last year (in 3D!) in 2013. Not only did the film have instant appeal as being one of my favorites, but this was further enhanced by being the first time I could see it on the big screen. By helping capture that original feeling of nostalgia I had from my first watch, the studios use that emotion to try and fuel interest for their newest project. Proving that nothing in Hollywood stays dead (except Sean Bean), Jurassic World is set to release in June of 2015 (only took them THIRTEEN YEARS) and I would not be surprised to see the originals pumped back into theaters again before the newest release.   But people who are going to go and pay to re-watch Jurassic Park are probably going to watch Jurassic World either way. So while it may seem like a cheap cash grab, there is still a valid market and the film can still offer experiences that are only captured on the big screen. Plus in those dark theaters nobody can see you silently fist pump along to the awesome John Williams score!

Yet no matter how amazing the surround sound is, is there anything cooler than that big screen? I still remember getting goosebumps the first time I saw an IMAX film and if I am going to pay for a film I have already seen and is being re-released, I sure as hell want it to utilize all of that screen. Did I want to watch Transformers 4? No, I really didn’t. I knew it would be awful, everyone said it was awful and yet did I see it? Sadly I did, but only because it is a ‘theater movie’ and it utilizes the theaters tools so well that the film would not be the same at home. When Die Hard released back in 1988 it claimed to blow you through the back wall of the theater and with that tagline helped bring credit to the phrase that some movies are just meant for the theater. This is a pull that re-releasing older films may still hold over the audience. I have seen Die Hard over 100 times, but have I seen it in theaters? Heck no, would I in a heartbeat? You better believe it. Jurassic Park 2 terrified me because it was legitimately larger than life. You got to see the monsters tower on the screen and hear the seats rumble with surround sound. I’m not saying my 20 inch monitor isn’t terrifying, but the monsters are a lot less scary when you can just power down. In contrast dramas while enjoyable on the big screen do not have the same draw as ‘oh man I NEED to see that in theaters’. Forrest Gump released again in select theaters this past year in theaters yet did I run to the theaters? Sorry Forrest, but that IMAX screen isn’t going to make your monologues seem any better or your shoes any squeakier.

Just in time for Halloween! Image Credit: Cineplex

Now while you may be sitting there thinking ‘does this really happen THAT often’? And the answer is kind of! Cineplex is currently promoting their ‘classic film series’ and will be airing a double feature of Wolfman and The Mummy at the end of the month (in Vancouver). While the idea behind it is obvious (yay Halloween) Cineplex boasts the ability to see these films on the  big screen for the first time (the films are 70+ years old). If that was not a draw enough, Cineplex states everything will be digital with hopes of increasing the original quality. In these instances, the ability to find such an old film online is slim to none and thus the theater presents a fantastic option to enjoy the film as intended (without online popups!). This idea of a double feature extends to movie director, Quinton Tarantino. Often throwing nods to past cinema in his films, Tarantino has recently opened up a double-bill theater in LA. The theater will only play older cinematic pieces, and will often feature back-to-back films matching a theme picked out by Quinton.  When asked about the value of re-releasing old classics in contrast to the films being made today, Tarantino had high praise before stating “If people come, fine. If they don’t, **** them” believing strongly that these old films deserve a spotlight to be seen whether the public agrees or not.

Films being re-released in theaters also have the ability to play off of a fan base that has already rallied around the film.  I dare you to not go watch Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Rio in Vancouver and not have a blast as everyone gets dressed up. Similarly, strap on a chainsaw hand and join a packed house as we watch the Evil Dead trilogy. Yet were you dressed up as a chainsaw wheeling bad-ass back in the 1980’s when it first released? I suspect not, advantage: re-release! And just in case you haven’t stepped into a Spencer’s or Hot Topic in the last 5 years, The Nightmare Before Christmas is still super trendy and as a result you can often find it being released in theaters again near Halloween.

Is there something magical about the $8 popcorn they serve at theaters? I can’t imagine there is. But is there anything quite like getting to see your favorite film in the way that it was intended? Re-releasing older classics allows the studios to heavily use the emotion of nostalgia as a selling point. Why watch Jurassic Park again? Well probably because you’ve seen it 100 times and love it every time! At least you’ll leave for the theater knowing what to expect. Certain films also just feel at home on the big screen, and can create experiences that no matter how hard you try cannot be replicated at home. Is this a hard task from studios to re-releasing these classics again? No it is probably not. Is there a way to see the films for free? Well there is the INTERNET and something tells me piracy is a thing (and not just to Johnny Depp). But you can’t pirate the feel of a cinematic movie and if there is a film being re-released that I connect with? You better believe I’ll see it in the best format possible.

One ticket please, with extra butter on the popcorn.

What is one of your favorite films re-releasing in your local theaters? Share with us in the comments below.

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