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Animated films titan, Disney, has released two of their classic films, ‘The Lion King’ (1994) and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (1991) in 3D so far. ‘The Lion King’ leapt into theaters in September 2011 and took the box office by surprise by reigning as the number one highest grossing film for two weeks in a row.
By the end of its run, the ‘King’ gathered over $94 million in the states. Disney executives took the movie’s profit into consideration and announced that they would re-release four more classic Disney animated films in 3D, as follows: ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Finding Nemo’ (2003), ‘Monsters, Inc’ (2001), and ‘The Little Mermaid’ (1989).
‘Beauty and the Beast’, released January 13, 2012, has grossed over $41 million domestically. However, the film did not take the number one spot as its predecessor did; instead coming in at the number two spot behind Mark Wahlberg’s heist thriller, ‘Contraband’. This change could be due to the release date, as January is annually one of the lowest movie attendance months in the calendar year, but it could also be because of the 3D, which adds an extra handful of dollars to the price of a movie ticket.
Movies in 3D gained a massive rise in the last few years and, with it, they have gained heavy criticism from filmmakers, critics, and audiences alike. They have long debated whether 3D is an enticing visual experience or a cheap scam to charge extra money for something that does not enhance the viewing of a film.
Films such as James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ (2009) and Dreamworks Studios’ ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ (2010) have been praised for using the new technology to immerse the viewers, but Legendary Pictures’ hasty 3D conversion of ‘Clash of the Titans’ (2010) and Robert Rodriguez’s sloppy ‘Spy Kids: All the Time in the World’ (2011) have drawn criticism for turning 3D into a lame trick for profit.
The success of ‘The Lion King’ suggests that audiences are warming up to the idea of 3D, but the lukewarm numbers of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ also show that the same trick may not work year round. The main appeal of these Disney classics are the wonderful stories, the whimsical characters, and the stunning visuals that accompany them.
Adding another dimension may be something to entice young children, but teenagers and adults are harder to please, especially when they are paying for movies that most of them have seen dozens of times. Thus, many of the teenagers and adults that attend the re-released Disney films are nostalgic fans, and nostalgia may not be enough to keep the sales for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ alive for much longer.
On the one hand, re-releasing the Disney classics is an excellent way to expose the younger generation to the films that helped shape their parents and relatives, but it begs the question if these movies would have the same success without being digitally remastered to fit the recent 3D trend. With three more Disney 3D films on the way for 2012 and 2013, time will tell if that question has an answer.
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