Why more classic movies should return to the big screen

Avatar returns to cinemas later this month, and Back To The Future will reappear on the big screen in October. For Rob, reissuing classic films can only be a good thing...

George Lucas did it (repeatedly), Disney has made a habit of doing it, and now it seems that James Cameron is having a go at the old ‘double-dip’ of a cinematic re-release, as next month the new Avatar: Special Edition will be hitting the big screens again.

Now, a lot of people are grumbling that this is just a thin attempt to cash in on the movie again. After all, the premium you’ve already paid for the 3D version, and the vanilla DVDs and Blu-rays you’ve bought, have given plenty of funds to Pandora. Perhaps this attempt to get you through the doors again for a few more minutes of extra footage is not worth shelling out for. Maybe that’s true.

However, maybe James Cameron, the old king of the cinema world could be onto something. Could this re-release pave the way for other directors and studios to look through their back catalogues, fish out the original prints, give them a spring clean, and give films that deserve a chance a second outing? And not just for one-off screenings. I’m talking for wide releases.

I recently saw Inception, a superb movie and, frankly, the only film I’ve seen over the past few years that I would be happy to sit through again and again in the cinema. (Ironically, the last one was Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.) It’s the only film in a while that I came out of the cinema and thought, “That’s a keeper. I need to see it again.” This was one up for pre-order for the Blu-ray pile and something that could be watched again and again.

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Essentially, what I’m trying to describe is the feeling you have for a film that will offer a legacy, a movie that will have pride of place on the shelf in your home collection and one you will go back to repeatedly. These are the films that could have a solid re-release.

I’m sure it won’t be difficult for studios to pick a movie to re-release. Just pick up any magazine with a ‘top 100’ list in it, trawl the web, or even just read this site for a few days. There’s a huge amount of passion for movies out there and this passion could easily be turned into pounds or dollars.

I’m a child of the 1980s, the boom time for blockbusters and a period, in my opinion, anyway, where cinema was at its best for entertainment. An era featuring the type of film I’m talking about, and a perfect area to mine for the nostalgic classics.

Films were riskier, more creative and unique. Who now would gamble on producing a film about four scientists fighting ghosts, or a bratty bullied American kid becoming friends with a Korean martial arts instructor, if hadn’t been done already and proven successful? Today, who would film a group of kids finding pirate treasure and wobbling their bellies?

Frankly, not too many, I would guess, but I would think that, if these films were tidied up and once again available for viewing at your local multiplex, you would go and see it, and probably bring your mates along too.

Would you, on more than one occasion, revisit the mess that was Michael Bay’s Transformers? Probably not. But if they released the animated version at your local cinema would you, along with other fellow fans, go and see it, maybe?

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Have you been bored on a Sunday afternoon and decided it would be a good time to relive the summer blockbuster that was Clash Of  The Titans, or do you go back and watch the far superior Harryhausen version? What if they put the original print back out there as part of a mythology week, along with Jason And The Argonauts and the Sinbad movies? Yup. Again, I’d buy a ticket for that.

Films today, it seems, need to have a merchandise hook, to be demographically friendly, or be an entryway into a potential franchise with opportunities for sequels, trying as hard as they can to break a record or two at the box office. And while this has evidently been successful with Harry Potter and, dare I say it, Twilight, this method of thinking, is limited, about sequels especially. Why not, therefore, tap into the pre-existing potential of an audience high on nostalgia, and give some older movies a proper, big screen airing?

Look at your DVD collection. I guess there is a copy of Back To The Future in there, maybe Trainspotting, Ghostbusters, perhaps The Big Lebowski, and Pulp Fiction, all of which are over a decade old. There are probably more modern classics, like The Matrix in there too, or Batman or Iron Man, which you’ll likely be tempted to buy again on a new format as and when it comes out.

But, imagine seeing these again at the cinema, with other like-minded individuals, a shared experience not designed for a cash-in (like Kids Clubs cinema ‘events’), but to feed the desire for film geeks to share something of a classic. Picture an entire day spent watching The Lord Of The Rings extended editions in a pre-booked seat with proper hour breaks in between. This could be something that could really take off.

I remember going to see the re-release of Blade Runner back in 1991, a film that was over a decade old, but was packed full of geeks like myself, who had a copy on video or recorded off the telly, too young to have seen it originally, but eager to see the new ‘directors cut’ version.

I also remember the same cinema having a double bill of Alien and Aliens on just before the release of Alien 3. Again, something that would have been fantastic to see.

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However, this just doesn’t seem to happen any more, but maybe it should. Before the reviewers and commentators decry Cameron’s actions with his Avatar re-release then, maybe this is the right way to go.

With the potential popularity of Avatar‘s re-release and the Back To The Future 25th anniversary cinematic return, (the idea of which was warmly welcomed in the comments when we posted the news), perhaps there’s a chance we could see The Abyss or even Terminator 1 and 2 having the same love and care given to them. And I bet you any money you like, if this happened, I would be right at the front of the queue.