Up until the early '90s, Disney animated classics used to be re-released into theaters every couple of years. But with the innovation of home video, which DVD would later dethrone, theatrical re-releases quickly became scarce. Disney re-releases may just be making a comeback, however, thanks to the current trend of 3-D movies. When Disney came out with "The Lion King 3D" last September, they merely saw it as a way to make some quick, easy money. To the studio's surprise, the film opened No. 1 at the box office and brought in more than $90 million by the end of its theatrical run. That's a considerable amount more than what several other animated films grossed last year.
So what drew so many people back to see "The Lion King?" I believe it was a combination of both nostalgia and 3-D. Re-releasing a film in 3-D treats people to something they all know and love presented in a format that appears fresh. Thus, there is something there for adults seeing "The Lion King" for the 100th time and children seeing the film for the first time. It also further confirms my theory that witnessing a movie in a theater will always be the premium moviegoing experience, even with all the Blu-ray advances.
Since "The Lion King 3D" was such a hit, it would only be natural for Disney to continue re-releasing its classics. In the years to come they plan on bringing "The Little Mermaid," "Finding Nemo," and "Monsters Inc." back to theaters with the 3-D bonus. Their first follow-up to "The Lion King 3D" though is "Beauty and the Beast," a film I was gracious to see in a movie theater for the very first time.
As many people already know, I hold Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" in the highest regard. On My Salute to Animation, I ranked it as the No. 1 animated feature of all time, just beating out the "Toy Story" trilogy and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." I've talked about "Beauty and the Beast" so much that I want to avoid simply repeating myself in this review. Let's just say that everything about this Best Picture nominee still holds up, from the characters, to the music, to the romance. Experiencing it in the theater is a trip well worth taking, whether you see it in 3-D or 2-D.
One aspect that I think will stand out to audiences in "Beauty and the Beast 3D" is the film's grand atmosphere. The Beast's castle is one of the most colossus and intimidating environments in the history of cinema. Viewing the film in 3-D, little details like stone gargoyles standout more than ever before. The musical numbers, such as "Be Our Guest" and that magnificent ballroom sequence, bring down the house more so than any 3-D concert movie. Despite the handicap of being a 2-D animated film, "Beauty and the Beast 3D" is one of the better 3-D movies I've seen to date.
Disney owes much to "Beauty and the Beast," which cemented its return to quality after some missteps in the '80s. Had it not been for its success, we likely wouldn't have gotten the Disney classics that followed or the computer animated films from studios like Pixar and Dreamworks. Although plenty of eminent animated features are released every year, it is hard to imagine one being as influential and extraordinary as "Beauty and the Beast." That's just one of the many reasons why the film is worth revisiting now, and still will be in another 10 years.