Today’s article is in answer to a question I received from a reader. Kevin emailed to ask “Is it just me, or are more and more old movies being re-released at the moment?”
I suspect Kevin has been triggered by the 20th-anniversary re-release of James Cameron’s drippy classic Titanic. Although he could have been referring to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Mulholland Drive, Maurice, GoodFellas, Daughters of the Dust, Prick Up Your Ears, Howards End, The Big Heat, Hellraiser, Terminator 2, Dirty Dancing, The Silence of the Lambs, The Graduate, and a black and white version of 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road – all of which were re-released in UK cinemas so far this year.
So let’s take a quick look at whether we’ve seen a greater number of movie re-releases recently.
How many movies are re-released each year?
Kevin was right – the number of movies re-released in UK cinemas has been growing. In 2016, there were 41 such re-releases, up from 29 ten years ago.
Regular readers of this blog will know that the number of movies released each year has been increasing dramatically in recent years. Therefore, it’s worth us looking at how the number of movie re-releases compares with releases of movies of all types.
Over the past ten years, re-releases have made up 5.4% of all movies released in UK and Irish cinemas.
How much revenue do movie re-releases gross?
Given that movie re-releases make up around 5% of all releases, it’s reasonable to ask if they make around 5% of the money collected in cinemas. In fact it’s nowhere close. Over that same decade, movie re-releases only accounted for 0.13% of box office gross (a total of £14.7 million over ten years).
The reason for this poor showing is that movie re-releases tend to screen in a small number of sites and only for a week or so. The best opening weekend of a re-release since 2000 was Blade Runner in 2015, which opened at number 9 in the UK box office chart.
Which were the UK’s biggest recent re-releases?
The highest grossing re-release between 2000 and 2016 was A Clockwork Orange, which grossed a total of £2.1 million in 2000. It opened on 328 cinema sites – an extremely large number for a movie re-release. It’s not uncommon for arthouse movie releases to open on fewer than ten sites, which partly explains the low box office gross we saw earlier.
Some movies have been re-released multiple times. For example, The Nightmare Before Christmas has been re-released three times in the past seventeen years.
The data for today came from comScore and the BFI.
I have excluded re-releases which are part of ‘event cinema’, such as Secret Cinema’s performance/screening of The Empire Strikes Back. Sometimes, movies can be re-released in cinemas normally and then also released as part of an event cinema performance. This happened with Back To The Future, which had a traditional re-release in 2010 and then a Secret Cinema run in 2014. For this article, only the first of those re-releases would be counted.
Today’s question came from a reader. If you have something you’d like me to look into, please drop me a line.