The exception to this was Disney cartoon movies, like 'Cinderella' and 'Snow White'. They get re-released every seven years, which the smart Disney marketing people found to be a generational turnover rate. And the great thing about Disney movies in theaters has always been that the parents have to pay to get in as well!
Then, home entertainment play-back systems arrived. First videotapes, then DVD's. Movies never came back for a second run. They just went to a DVD graveyard.
But this weekend, the game changes. James Cameron is making history. His block-buster, 'Avatar', is hitting the Big Screen again, being released at over 750 3D theaters. Renamed 'Avatar: Special Edition', it has some added extra footage, and some more romance.
So why is it being re-released so soon?
When 'Avatar' was first released, there were around 3,000 3D screens, and around 40,000 2D movie theaters in the US. So most of the people who saw Avatar first time around saw it in 2D. Even in cities that had 3D theaters, the number of people who saw the movie in 2D vastly outnumbered the 3D viewers, because the 3D theaters were few, and always full.
From the date of Avatar's first release, the number of 3D movie screens has almost doubled, to around 6,000 theaters, and a lot of these installations have gone into towns which didn't have 3D theaters back then. This will give a huge new audience the opportunity to go and see the movie the way Cameron intended it to be seen, in 3D.
But the important determinant of the re-release date was the availability of the Imax 3D theaters. This schedule was decided back in March, when Imax committed their theaters for this project.
So August 27th marks the date for 3D release in both Imax 3D and regular 3D theaters.
What's the betting it finishes in the top 3 for the week end?
And, by the way, watch for the re-release of James Cameron's 'Titanic', in 2012. Yes folks. It is being refloated, but this time in 3D!
If you want a really entertaining read, here is an interview with James Cameron discussing the release, and much more besides.