The 16th Best Movie I Saw This Year: The Lion King (In 3-D)

Whenever movie sites discuss the re-release of a movie to theaters, there’s always an audible sniff and a scathing put-down that this new release is “nothing more than a cash grab.”

Well, of course it’s a cash grab. They’re a movie studio. What else would it be? And furthermore, who cares?

Most movies walk a fine line with insolvency. They gamble on a lot of movies, most of them don’t hit, and then they’re saved by the occasional film that sells like gangbusters and makes them hordes of money. A studio like Summit Entertainment acquires the ‘Twilight’ books, makes a two and a half billion dollars off of them, and gets purchased by Lionsgate this month. A studio like MGM has a century of success, then makes a couple bad calls in a row, finds itself two and a half billion in debt, and is forced to file for bankruptcy. It’s a high-stakes game they’re playing out there.

The 3-D craze has played itself out, but there’s a new concept emerging where studios take movies that have already made hoards of money, convert them to 3-D, and release them to the public again. The Lion King was the first of the bunch, but this spring we’ve already had Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, and soon Titanic will be back in theaters. I’m assuming the pattern will continue until we get to Norbit or something.

A lot of people hate 3-D, and are diametrically opposed to this practice. I have no problem with it, for two reasons:

  1. Movie studios need to make a lot of money, and this isn’t a bad way to do it. Another way they do it is by grabbing old things that I loved, like ‘Battleship’, or Alvin and The Chipmunks, and turning them into horrifying film franchises. Then those franchises advertise their terrible films with their terrible puns and terrible catchphrases and terrible poop jokes (I’m talking about the Chipmunks movies here. Battleship doesn’t have any poop jokes. I don’t think) everywhere I go, until I’m tempted to tear out my eardrums and retinas.

    This way is easier. They convert the film, re-release it to theaters, there’s a small, noninvasive promotional push for it showing scenes from a movie I liked, and then it’s gone again. I didn’t see Beauty and the Beast in theaters, but I’ve always liked the movie and didn’t mind watching clips of Gaston and Cogsworth pop up on my television every now and then.
  2. These movies are a way to connect to my childhood. I was ten when my grandparents took me to see The Lion King. I loved it then, and seeing it again on a big screen, munching popcorn in the dark, reminded me of what I loved about it. It’s a great movie, epic and grand, and the animation is beautiful.* I imagine that if I had kids, I’d enjoy the ability to take my child out to a film of that quality and have us experience it together. When you consider how low the standards are of parents taking their children to the theater, that’s a real win.

So calm down, everyone. It’s not a desecration of your childhood to have people watch a movie you liked while wearing 3-D glasses. And anyone who thinks it is should be forced to watch both Battleship and Alvin and the Chipmunks 3: Chipwrecked, just to teach them a lesson.

*If you’re wondering why I chose to rank The Lion King, a movie I love, 16th overall in a weak year for film: While The Lion King is a tremendous film, I enjoyed the experience of re-watching­ the film about the same as I enjoyed watching the films that surrounded it for the first time. But then, I’m not a movie re-watcher in general.