The Magic Vault – Return of the Reissue

You are probably aware by now that Hollywood reckons the very movie to fill the Valentine’s Day gap this year is the love story that took Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet to a watery grave – Titanic (1997). The date might be a surprise but with Avatar: The Way of Water conquering box offices worldwide a re-run of his previous gigantic success was always on the cards.

What might come as a shock is how much Hollywood has come to rely on oldies to fill gaps in the release schedule – so much so that a reissue of a biggie has been slated for every month in the forthcoming year. As you are probably aware from my discursive writings on the subject, the reissue has been a staple of the industry since the 1960s, and as often as not appearing when stocks of new films were at a low ebb.

Covid was an unexpected production disaster and with new films in short supply and audiences falling short of the norm the studios felt it better to hold on to big films until cinemas were back to something approaching normality. Thank goodness someone in Hollywood can count because anniversaries make up a hefty chunk of the excuses to trot out old pictures. Anniversary used to mean a celebration of a classic made 25 or 50 years ago, but that notion has been taken to extremes,  so any year seems fair game, 20th, 45th now pretty common.

But anniversary was not in the main the driving force last year. Some pretty big fish were summoned from the vaults to work their magic. The original Avatar (2009)  brought in another $76 million worldwide – positioning it just outside the global top 50 for 2022. Interstellar (2014) knocked up another $72 million, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) $45 million, Leonardo DiCaprio in Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) worth an extra $14.8 million and the original Jurassic Park (1993) added $10 million to the coffers.

What must have seemed like nothing short of frantic experiment clearly struck a chord with audiences, so studios are taking to the reissue on a regular basis.

For a time it was Casablanca (1942) that had been the unexpected filler of the St Valentine’s Day gap. But it could hardly compete with Titanic, but rather than lose the opportunity for another annual outing, this has been re-scheduled for the beginning of March.

In April there will be a further chance – in a genuine 25th anniversary big bang- to see Jeff Bridges and John Goodman in the Coen Bros cult favorite The Big Lebowski (1998). Musical Grease (1978) – 45th anniversary? – with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John is the May pick. Hardly an unusual notion this, Grease has already had more than its fair share of reissues.

You might think it’s Travolta again in June, in Hairspray (2007), but actually it’s the John Waters original, made in 1988 – 35th anniversary!! – that became the basis of the Broadway musical. It boasts an all-time cracker of a cast – Sonny Bono (of Sonny & Cher fame), Divine (Pink Flamingos, 1972), pop star Debbie Harry (Videodrome, 1983) of Blondie, future talk show host Ricki Lake in her movie debut, and comic Jerry Stiller (father of Ben).

For the holidays what could be better than a 40th anniversary outing for National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983). Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo fire up their engines for July and look out for Eugene Levy, John Candy, Jane Krakowski and Christie Brinkley in small parts.

It’s a straight-out 50th anniversary slam-dunk for Enter the Dragon (1973), the kung fu actioner that cemented Bruce Lee’s reputation and sent the world into a brief glorious paroxysm of kung fu exploitation vehicles that even impinged on James Bond. Catch it in August.

You’d never guess it’s 35 years since Rain Man (1988), but don’t worry that will surely form the main plank of the marketing for its revival in September. Tom Cruise is of course still a big noise, less so Dustin Hoffman and director Barry Levinson, but they both won the Oscar, and fans of Hans Zimmer (Oscar nominated) will be more than happy to celebrate the score that brought him worldwide attention.

There’s been more than enough publicity attached to the filming of The Birds (1963), what with Tippi Hedren’s accusations of her treatment, but this 60th anniversary re-release might provide opportunity to reassess what I consider to be Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest achievement. That’s out in October.

Al Pacino’s turn as Cuban gangster Tony Montana in Brian DePalma’s Scarface (1983) – 40th anniversary – was not a huge hit at the time, audiences too easily put off by the violence and the over-the-top performance, but it’s now become a cult classic so expect big numbers to turn out in November.

Rounding out the year, unless someone can come up with something bigger/better before then, is A Christmas Story (1983) – 40th anniversary. You’ve probably forgotten all about this unless you can remember this is where the iconic “tongue frozen to flagpole” idea originated. Directed by Bob Clark, perhaps in reparation for Porky’s (1981), it sees Melinda Dillon (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977) as the mother appalled her son wants a BB gun for Xmas. Wonder how that idea will play out these days!

I am already trawling through any film made in a year ending in 4 or 9 to see what Hollywood can base an anniversary re-showing on for 2024.

Author: Brian Hannan

I am a published author of books about film - over a dozen to my name, the latest being "When Women Ruled Hollywood." As the title of the blog suggests, this is a site devoted to movies of the 1960s but since I go to the movies twice a week - an old-fashioned double-bill of my own choosing - I might occasionally slip in a review of a contemporary picture.

14 thoughts on “The Magic Vault – Return of the Reissue”

      1. Right! I contacted Fathom Events but they said it wasn’t in the plans…. Maybe this is the year The Library of Congress will FINALLY add The Great Escape to the National Registry of Film… I’ve been nominating it for nearly 20 years!

        Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Discover WordPress

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

The Atavist Magazine

by Brian Hannan News

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: