There’s no arguing that Disney’s rerelease of “The Lion King” was pure marketing genius. They slapped on a gimmicky 3D conversion and announced a limited theatrical release just in time for the movie’s Blu-ray debut. How convenient. But what no one counted on was how well it would do in theaters. The astounding box-office success of the animated epic tale puzzled movie critics, while Disney executives gleefully sing “Hakuna Matata” all the way to the bank.
In this age of high-tech home theater systems and increasingly expensive movie tickets, why are audiences willing to pay for a movie they can just as easily watch at home? I think there are several factors that contribute to the film’s current success:
1.) It’s a Sure Thing
Movie theatre ticket prices are astronomically high as it is – add in a few extra dollars for a 3D film and you’re looking at $15.00 – $20.00 for a single ticket. For most people, frequent trips to the movie theater is simply too costly. So, when movie-goers decide to spend their hard earned cash on a film, they want to ensure it’s something worth watching. “The Lion King” is a classic and captivating story that’s guaranteed to entertain.
2.) It’s Nostalgic
Before VHS players were found in every home, the only way to see the latest Disney film was to wait for it to be rereleased in theaters. The practice of rereleasing animated features began in 1944 with “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” when Disney needed to raise revenue during World War II. The “Snow White” rerelease was so successful Disney started rereleasing their animated features every seven to ten years. The practice of theatrical rereleases stopped in the 1990’s, but many people have fond memories of seeing Disney animated films as a child; going to see “The Lion King: 3D” recaptures those feelings.
3.) It’s a Magical Experience
Sure, you can watch “The Lion King” DVD at home, but regardless of how great your home theater system may be, it cannot compete with the experience of watching a Disney animated classic on the big screen.
4.) It’s a Beautiful Movie
While modern technology certainly can produce gorgeous graphics, it cannot compare with the jaw-dropping hand-drawn animation of “The Lion King.” Simply put, it’s a stunningly beautiful piece of art.
5.) It’s a Great Story
“The Lion King” is a classic tale filled with familiar good and evil archetypes and moral themes of responsibility, revenge and retribution. Now, mix all of that in with catchy foot-tapping songs, a myriad of complex characters, and emotionally charged scenes that range from slapstick humor to profound sorrow, and you have a truly enjoyable movie.
We may never know all of the reasons “The Lion King: 3D” had such astonishing box-office success. But what we do know is the unprecedented success of “The Lion King: 3D” prompted The Walt Disney Studios to announce future 3D limited theatrical engagements for four of its classic films, including “Beauty and the Beast” (January 2012), “Finding Nemo” (September 2012), “Monsters, Inc.” (January 2013), and “The Little Mermaid” (September 2013).