Coming Back to a Theater Near You

Coming Back to a Theater Near You

by Brian Hannan


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In the Silent Era, film reissues were a battle between rival studios—every Mary Pickford new release in 1914 was met with a Pickford re-release. For 50 years after the Silent Era, reissues were a battle between the studios, who considered old movies “found money,” and cinema owners, who often saw audiences reject former box office hits. In the mid–1960s, the return of The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)—the second biggest reissue of all time—altered industry perceptions, and James Bond double features pushed the revival market to new heights. In the digital age, reissues have continued to confound the critics.
This is the untold hundred-year story of how old movies saved new Hollywood. Covering the booms and busts of a recycling business that became its own industry, the author describes how the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Humphrey Bogart and Alfred Hitchcock won over new generations of audiences, and explores the lasting appeal of films like Napoléon (1927), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Rocky Horror Show (1975) and Blade Runner (1982).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786498130
Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
Publication date: 06/19/2016
Pages: 492
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Brian Hannan writes a regular column for Cinema Retro magazine and gives lectures on film at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi

Preface 1

Introduction 3

1 The First Quarter Century: 1914-1939, Let Battle Commence 15


The Reissue Bandwagon Begins to Roll

The First Reissue Boom: Chaplin Fever

Deception: The Fraud Squad

Self-Destruction: The Reissue Threat

The Last Taboo: Valentino

Reissue Phenomenon: Birth of a Nation

How Reissues Fitted the New Business Model

Talkies: The Impossible Equation

The New Horizon: Remakes and Synchronization

Intermittent Demand

Shortage Turns the Tide

Into the Record Books

Unlikely Reissue King: Charles Laughton

Financial Crisis and Looming War


2 The 1940s: Reissue Bust and Boom 41


Thumbs Down to War Revivals

Longer, Shorter: New Versions of Old Movies

Reissues Unwanted Until the Shortage Bites

Drastic Action as Studios Curtail Reissues

The Growth of the Specialist Reissue Company

The Reissue Double Bill

"There's Gold in Them Thar Reissues" (Variety, April 2, 1947, 9)

Unions Demand Action


3 The 1940s: Case Studies-Haphazard Reissue 62

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The W.C. Fields Cult Begins

Gone with the Wind

The Wizard of Oz and the Anniversary Invention

4 The 1950s: Television Haunts the Industry 69


Television: Opportunity and Threat

The Optimists

The Deceivers

Reissue Comebacks-Garbo and Chaplin

Victorious Defeat

The Fallow Years

King Kong to the Rescue

The Quantity Dilemma

Stretched to the Limit: Widescreen Revamps

The Drought

The Decade Ends on a High


5 The 1950s: Case Studies-Building a Reissue Arsenal 100


Building a Reissue Arsenal: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1952)

The Birth of the Hitchcock Reissue Legend: The Lady Vanishes (1952)

Creating a Reissue Phenomenon: Gone with the Wind (1954)

The Lesson of Tarzan

6 1960-1963: The Jury Is Out 113


The Second Tier Blockbuster: The Glenn Miller Story

The Exhibitor Knows Best: Friendly Persuasion

Roadshow Reinvention: The King and I

Oscars: The United Artists Rethink

Immunity: MGM and Disney

The Arthouse Hothouse


Star Power


7 1964-1966: The Turning Point 142


Game Changer No. 1: Bridge on the River Kwai

Game Changer No. 2-The James Bond Double Bill

Oscar Revamp

Musicals Bounce Back

Directors Exert Star Power

1966: From Famine to Domination

Four Little Films That Could: Lili, An Evening with Batman and Robin, Poor White Trash, La Dolce Vita


8 1967-1969: Husbandry-The "Threeissue": Reissuing the Reissue 167


The MGM Legacy

Disney: Reissue Champ

United Artists: Play Them Till They Drop

The Bonnie and Clyde Phenomenon

A Reissue Star Is Born: Sidney Poitier

Endangered Species


9 The 1960s: Case Studies-Reissue Royalty, Old Retainers and Loyal Courtiers 193


Queen Elizabeth

King Alfred

Old Masters: The Comedians

Rising from the Dead-Humphrey Bogart

The Workhorses: The Thomas Crown Affair, One Million Years B.C.

Unsung Hero: Darby O'Gill and the Little People


10 1970-1973: Sentence Commuted 212


Fox on Fire

Roadshow Re-Cycle

Disney Attracts a Rival

Comedy Classics Entrenched

The Great Garbo Revival

Chaplin Rides Again

New Reissue Stars and Studios

The Other Champ Returns


11 1974-1979: The Rollercoaster Ride 233


A Wall Too Far

Heavyweights Go Head- to-Head

Television Cuts the Big Four Down to Size

Tuning Up: That's Entertainment

1975: Sherlock Holmes Hits the Spot

The Classics Step Up

Fanboy Favorite: Sinbad

A New Era Beckons

Another Boom

1977: Alive to Opportunity

Classic Revival-Again

Star Wars: The Reissue "Wind Up"

1979: The "Threeissue" Epidemic


12 The 1970s: Case Studies-Slow Burners and Surprise Packets 260


This Joint Is Smokin': Reefer Madness

Marx Brothers Mania: Animal Crackers

Rescued from Rejection: King of Hearts

The Oddest Love Story: Harold and Maude

Midnight Rendezvous: The Rocky Horror Picture Show


13 1980-1999: Brave New Goldmine 271


Video Cassette and Paycable

Thwarted Vision: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

The Greatest Reissue Story Ever Told: Napoleon

Re-Strike and Reissue Fever: A Star Is Born

Alfred Hitchcock: Reissue Poster Boy

Disney Domination

Atonement: Lawrence of Arabia, the Director's Cut

Righting Wrongs: Blade Runner, the Director's Cut

The Biggest Restoration of All Time: Star Wars

The French Are Coming (Back): Belle de Jour

The Resurrection of Orson Welles


14 2000-2014: Bigger Than Ever-How Did That Happen? 295


Roadshow Redux: Fantasia 2000

Once Is Not Enough: Metropolis

The New Perennials: The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, The Polar Express and The Nightmare Before Christmas

All Join In: Sing-a-Long-a Sound of Music

Reverse Reissue: It's a Wonderful Life

Epilogue or Prologue? What Next for the Reissue? 307


A Top Reissues, 1940-1959 311

B Top Reissues, 1970-1979 312

C Disney Animated Feature Reissues, 1980-1989 313

D Pattern of Reissue Release, 1963-1979 314

E Reissues Reaching No. 1 in the Weekly Top Ten, 1960-1979 321

F Reissues in the Weekly Top Ten, 1960-1974 321

G Number of Entries Per Year in the Weekly Top Ten 323

H British Cinema Circuit Reissues, 1939-1979 324

Chapter Notes 330

Bibliography 437

Index 445

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