With Jurassic Park being re-released in cinemas this week and news of Ghostbusters getting the same treatment next month, Luke Owen explores a possible new trend in Hollywood...
October 2010, I was in the car with my housemates on the way to my local over-priced multiplex. But we weren’t on our way to see the latest new release; we were off to see a film that was 25 years old. Back to the Future was back in cinemas, and I wasn’t going to miss out on it.
Back to the Future had made up a huge part of my childhood. It didn’t matter that it was always being repeated on BBC, I was watching it on a daily basis on VHS. I just couldn’t get enough of Marty and Doc’s adventure through time. And while watching Marty tell Doc Brown that the president of 1985 is Ronald Reagan (not the actor) on TV was fine, I always longed to see it on the big screen. Being that I was born the year of its release (the tail end of the year no less), I didn’t really get a chance to see it as intended. But with its 25th anniversary re-release, I was going to finally see one of my all-time favourite movies on the silver screen.
Someone pointed out to me, “Luke don’t you own these on DVD?” which is true, I do. I also had it on VHS but that’s beside the point. But it had nothing to do with watching a film I’ve seen a million times over, it was about seeing it in a cinema. That experience of travelling to the multiplex, queuing up to buy my over-priced ticket, paying for watered down drink and then sitting down in battered seats to enjoy that magic of Back to the Future on a screen bigger than my house.
It was one of my cinema highlights of 2010. Not only does the film hold up in terms of special effects 25 years after its original release, but its story, characters and dialogue don’t appear to have aged a day. Everything about it was perfect.
While this was great, I didn’t expect for this kind of cinema experience to happen again. That was until I heard the news that Jurassic Park was getting a short re-release in cinemas to promote the Blu-Ray release.
As mentioned in Talkin’ Trilogies #2, Jurassic Park holds a special place in my hear for being my 3rd earliest cinema memory (the 2nd being Aladdin and my earliest is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secrets of the Ooze). The film blew me away to the point where it was all I wanted to watch when it was finally release on VHS. My brother bought me a giant poster of the T-Rex which hung in my room for years and my parents spent a fortune buying the toys (which on reflection were rubbish). I was obsessed with this film. So a re-release in cinemas is nothing but a good thing in my eyes. I can’t wait to feel that overwhelming feeling I had 18 years ago. I don’t care if this is just a marketing ploy for the Blu-Ray and it will be the first time I’ve ever paid to watch an advert. If the advert is Jurassic Park, I don’t mind.
So there I was walking on air as I counted down the days until Jurassic Park stomps its way back into cinemas when I had a news story the size of a Twinkie that was thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds land in my lap.
While Jurassic Park is one of my earliest cinematic memories, my earliest childhood memory is watching Ghostbusters with my parents. I was very obsessed with its cartoon spin-off The Real Ghostbusters and I would spend every one of my waking hours either pretending I was a Ghostbuster or playing with my Ghostbusters figures. It was my entire life. So my parents figured it was probably time I sat down to watch the film that started it all.
Suffice to say I was probably too young to watch it. I managed to get through the first half of the movie (my mother covered my eyes during the library ghost sequence) but never made it past Vince Clortho and Zuul coming out of their respective statues. The movie scared the hell out of me, but in a good way. My love and obsession of Ghostbusters never stopped and still lives on to this day.
So when I heard the news that it was to re-released in cinemas for a limited period of time, I flipped out. Quite literally. I actually threw my hands up in the air and shouted “yes” very loudly. I am finally going to see a movie that has defined the first 26 years of my life on the big screen – just as it was meant to be seen.
The point I’m trying to make with all this waffle is that these three movies could start a trend that could put an end to the unimaginative curse that has swept Hollywood.
At the moment, there is a fad within Hollywood to remake movies from the 80s and 90s in order to bring a new audience and cash in on the brand. Usually they are made for a lot of money and promoted very heavily but they never quite meet the standards set by its predecessor. More often than not they are torn apart by critics and fans alike which means they will never grace the movie halls of fame. But I have come up with a way for Hollywood studios to still milk the udders of their movie right cash cows whilst saving themselves some time, money and dignity.
Just re-release the film you plan to remake. Rather than spend $50 million remaking something that will never be appreciated, simply spend $1-2 million promoting the re-release of the film around the world with poster campaigns, TV spots, theatrical trailers etc. If marketed correctly with the right films, they could easily make back that money and probably turn a profit. Don’t believe me? Back to the Future made £461,194 across a mere 273 screens in the UK. With a one week release in one country, Universal made nearly half a million pounds without any promotion. All they did was use Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter with the age old advertising trick known as Word of Mouth to promote the flick. Imagine what money they could have made if they’d have done a worldwide re-release with a heavy amount of advertising.
I know that Back to the Future was re-released for the 25th anniversary, and I’m aware that Jurassic Park is only being re-released to promote the Blu-Ray and I have a feeling that Ghostbusters is only being re-released to test the waters to see if there is any desire from the general public for a 3rd entry into the series. But do you know what, I don’t care. These are great films that mean so much to me and I feel privileged to be able to see them on the big screen just as they were intended. But if these three films had been remakes rather than re-releases, I don’t think I would have had the same love and affection to pay for my over-priced ticket.
So Hollywood, if you’re reading this, just try this method. Give it a go. It may not work for every movie, but it will for some. If New Line had re-released A Nightmare on Elm Street rather than put out that ungodly bad remake, the film would have probably made the same amount money and you wouldn’t have alienated the fans you were trying to pander too. These three films may have been re-released as nothing more than marketing tools for other endeavours, but they could be the first three stepping stones into a brighter movie future.