The box office has entered the dog days of summer, in which big ticket sales and new releases are hard to come by. In the meantime, amid the desolate movie landscape, blockbusters of yore are returning to theaters.
That includes Universal’s “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial,” which took in $1.07 million last weekend — more than the totals of new films such as “Mack & Rita” and “Emily the Criminal.” Not bad for a 40-year old film.
And it’s not the only big hit making a come back.
Disney (DIS) announced Tuesday that 2016’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” would be returning to theaters for a week on August 26, along with a sneak peek of the new Disney (DIS)+ Star Wars series “Andor.” Universal’s “Jaws” — the original summer blockbuster from 1975 — swims back into theaters Labor Day weekend in IMAX and 3-D. Sony and Marvel’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” — the biggest blockbuster from last year — swings into cineplexes for Labor Day as well, with new footage in the film’s “The More Fun Stuff Version.”
Then, on September 23, 2009’s “Avatar” — one of the highest-grossing films of all time — returns to theaters before its highly anticipated sequel, “Avatar: The Way of Water,” comes out in December.
Re-releases have always been a part of the box-office landscape, but “it seems that of late there have been many more then has been traditionally seen in theaters,” noted Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore (SCOR).
Why? Covid played a part.
“The pandemic spurred on a greater proliferation of re-releases in movie theaters since there were no new movies to come by,” Dergarabedian said. “Theaters are looking for more than just brand-new movies to put on their screens and with some 30% fewer releases in the mix this year, it’s no wonder that this is a welcome trend.”
Bringing back favorites is good business for both theaters and studios, according to Dergarabedian.
“Re-releases are great for theaters because it gives them more movies to put on their screens,” he said. “And it’s great for the studios who can dig into their vaults and earn revenues on films that were released many years ago, but now regain a new life on the big screen.”
The re-release trend is not just for blockbusters that opened in years past, however. Example A: “Top Gun: Maverick.”
“Maverick” — which has made nearly $1.4 billion worldwide since opening Memorial Day weekend — got a boost in its theater count last week during its “Fan Appreciation Weekend” that included showings in premium formats like IMAX (IMAX).
“‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is something of a freak of nature at this point,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com, told CNN Business. “The film’s near-immaculate staying power has strengthened calls for it to be given more premium screen allotment again and again as other content dries up.”
And there are more re-releases to come next year.
Paramount announced in June that 1997’s “Titanic” would be sailing into theaters just in time for Valentine’s Day 2023.
“I think there’s an argument to be made that small-to-medium scale re-releases in IMAX and other formats should occur more often,” Robbins said. “While there is no substitute for a brand new release capturing a wide audience, select screenings of legacy content can offer valuable supplemental revenue to many theater owners and studios.”