While Hollywood has been remaking movies for a while, the last decade has seen the "remake" become a go-to business maneuver, a trend, a buzzword, a way to elicit groans from movie faithfuls. Don't forget The Remake's cousin: The Reboot. Sometimes the misses are huge: Godzilla (1998) or Planet of the Apes (2001). But sometimes the rewards are dazzling: The Departed (2006) or Batman Begins (2005).
News sources, critics, and viewers alike keep asking: "Why remake the original?" "Why reboot this franchise?" When the results are positive, we shut up. When they're bad, we complain. Prior to a remake's/reboot's opening weekend, the speculation is almost always negative. The general complaint is that Hollywood has no originality anymore. That's why we get remakes and reboots. That might be true. But, as we know, the world is not rigid. Things change. Evolve. And what we may be witnessing is the birth of a new direction.
Here comes 2011. And what do we have? An onrush of prequels. Not quite remakes, not quite reboots. Same idea: update, utilize the brand. X-Men: First Class, The Thing, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Paranormal Activity 3. Next year's Men in Black III will function as a prequel. Ridley Scott is making his Alien prequel, Prometheus.
That's one evolution.
The other is we have had three 2011 re-releases. Now, re-releases are also nothing new. But. In this business-centric 21st century, no studio or theater has mined the re-release. What we've seen are strategic plays. Back to the Future came out last year, for a limited time, to celebrate it's 25th anniversary. This year has seen Jurassic Park re-released to celebrate it's blu-ray release, The Lion King re-released in 3D, and now Ghostbusters was re-released to test the market/prime the market for Ghostbusters 3.
Director: Ivan Reitman
Venkman: Bill Murray
Ray: Dan Aykroyd
Egon: Harold Ramis
Winston: Ernie Hudson
Cutie: Sigourney Weaver
Better off possessed by a demon dog: Rick Moranis
Snarky Secretary: Annie Potts
There are three reasons we see movies in theaters.
1. Because it's something to do.
2. Because we can't wait 3-6 months for the home release (VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, Whatever-Comes-Next)
3. Because the screen is giant, the room is dark, and the experience looms so much larger and grander than home viewing.
As it currently stands, movies theaters don't make money from movies. The Studio-Theater relationship works like this:
Studio: "You can show my movie, but I get 80% of the ticket sales."
Theater: "Okay. How should I make money?"
Studio: "Sell something really cheap for a lot of money. Like popcorn. Or pop."
Theater: "This really sucks."
Studio: "What did you say?"
Theater: "Thank you for this opportunity."
Studio: "That's what I thought, bitch."
If a movie theater wanted to show an older movie...like...The Sandlot, they would have to "rent it" from the distributor or studio. This is pricey. Which is why all the re-releases, to this point, have been, as I said earlier, strategic. And were done by the studios, not the theaters.
We're going to see more and more re-releases. Titanic is getting a 3D re-release. Disney has announced re-releases of Beauty & the Beast, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, and Monsters Inc.
I think this is a good thing. One, because the Ghostbusters experience, was, to me, a success.
And Two: as re-releases become the next business trend in Hollywood, what I hope to see is a revolution in theaters.
Right now, we have three major types of theater: the fancy multiplex, the crummy dollar theater, and the art house.
What I hope is that as re-releases become more and more popular--as studios realize that they can actually release a movie, have it do "okay', have it become a cult success, and MAKE MORE MONEY by having a re-release--is we will see several things:
1. Distributors/Studios easing licensing fees, allowing major commercial theaters the opportunity to screen re-releases regularly. At first, this would probably be coordinated (as it has been so far). But I would want this to become something each theater decides for itself, based on demand. Theaters could start running memberships solely for the re-releases and allowing the members to select movies. Movies run for one month. The membership forms, essentially, a club. This adds a community environment to the generic, corporate cinemas.
2. More niche theaters like Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company. What would these be? Who knows. Maybe a miniature golf course that is set before a giant outdoor screen and shows family friendly movies so that kids can watch Aladdin as they mini-golf. You could have Horror-themed mini golf courses and in the background play horror movies. (These aren't great ideas, I know, but, whatever). Maybe just more restaurants that show movies on big screens. I'm fine with that. I would eat sushi while watching Pirates of the Caribbean.
3. Hollywood re-discovering its balls. Remakes and reboots are rampant because the material is proven. The audience is there. Since Hollywood is more about profit than ever (who isn't these days), it doesn't want to take a risk on properties that may fail, that won't guarantee them $100,000,000. This is why we see all those superhero adaptations: the audience is there. This is why we have sequels galore. Prequels. Re-releases. But re-releases could prove revolutionary. Because while Spider-Man 3 may have grossed $890,000,000 worldwide, the odds of convincing a crowd of people to watch the movie a second time is slim (because I'd send all ticket buyers death threats). It's a shitty movie. It road the coattails of the first two. It made money, but it killed the franchise. Who wants to see shit more than once? No one. That's why we flush it down the toilet. But if studios and distributors begin to include "re-release value" into their fucked up business-centric movie-making thought-process, they realize the potential value of MAKING A GOOD MOVIE. They'll take more risks on original material because even if the material only has a $20,000,000-$50,000,000 profit (yeah, "only"), if it's a good film and builds a cult following, re-releases will make money as well.
This is ideal-situation, if-the-world-were-perfect theorizing. The whole thing could bomb. But I think re-releases and re-showings are a niche Studios, Distributors, and Theaters haven't maximized.
"This is great, but aren't you going to talk about Ghostbusters?"
What do you want me to say? It began, it ended, and it being on the big screen kicked ass.
Did I Like It:
Don't make me slime you. Of course I liked it. And it was the best it's ever been. Seeing it in the theater was ten times better than any single time I've watched it at home. Would you rather watch the Super Bowl on TV or be at the game, in great seats? (Yes, you could have a great time at an awesome Super Bowl party full of food and beer and fun, but that story still loses to "Yeah, I was sitting on the fifty yard line, row fifteen.")
I'm glad no one pulled a George Lucas and went in and made the demon dogs CGI. Or Slimer. The effects still look good. I mean, okay, when the dog jumps on the table, it's sort of ugly, but...I find it endearing.
I didn't discuss it more in this inquiry because I really don't have anything to say about it. The release itself, the opportunity to see it in theater, seemed to be the most crucial aspect. If you want something more specific, go to the inquiries page and fill out the form.
What It's Good For:
-watching in a movie theater
-making you wish you had cool equipment
-the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man
-generating an awesome cartoon show
-are you kidding me?
Murray: 15/85 (essentially Bill Murray as we know and love him; not really a character at all)
Aykroyd: 75/25 (really trying to be Ray)
Weaver: 80/20 (gets into the Donna)
Moranis: undefinable (he is something else)
Reitman: Kindergarten Cop
Murray: Lost in Translation; Caddyshack; Groundhog Day; Zombieland
Ramis: National Lampoon's Vacation
Weaver: Alien; Aliens; Galaxy Quest
Moranis: Space Balls; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; Little Giants
Potts: Toy Story