Movies theaters should embrace re-releasing classic films

Will Haddock, Reporter

Movie theaters should re-release more classic films to compete with streaming services and provide a unique viewing experience. Sitting in a theater with friends and having the opportunity to see the movie on a big screen with booming surround sound, you are able to escape reality for two hours.

According to a poll by The Morning Consult and Hollywood Reporter in November of 2018, theaters were still the preferred viewing method of films. The shift happened around March 2020 right before the first lockdown. By June of 2020 streaming became the preferred method of viewing as less people were going to the theaters due to COVID-19.

COVID-19 limited our enjoyment of movie theaters because it was not safe to sit in a crowded theater before the vaccine. I found streaming to be really reliable since there was so much I could watch at home. The experience wasn’t the same and I didn’t always enjoy watching movies on my own.

In the past two years, production companies and theaters have adapted. Services like HBO Max released films produced by Warner Brothers simultaneously on their streaming app along with a theatrical release. Films like “The Suicide Squad,” “The Many Saints of Newark”, and “Dune” could be viewed from the comfort of your living room or the inside of a movie theater on the same day.

According to an article from Box Office Pro, for the 50th anniversary of Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather,” AMC movie theaters screened the film in select locations. As a fan of the film, I went with a friend to see “The Godfather” in theaters for the first time in my life. Having shown my friend the film at home a few weeks back, the two experiences could not be more different.

“When you’re at home, you’re always interrupted. And you’re always aware of the fact that you can stop the film and move and do something else. When you’re in a movie theater it’s a protected, dark, dreamlike space… You can really enjoy the film and identify with the characters and get swept up in the world much more thoroughly,” said California Lutheran University Professor Dru Pagliassotti, who has a doctorate degree in communication theory and research.

Pagliassotti who teaches film theory, saw “The Wizard of Oz” and “Casablanca” re-released in a movie theater while they were attending grad school. They had only seen these films on TV.

In my opinion, the experience of seeing an old movie in a theater for the first time is magical. Whether you know the film by heart or have only recently watched it for the first time, the immersion of the theatrical experience is truly unique. Some theaters, like The Landmark Nuart Theater in West Los Angeles screen cult classics weekly.

Every Saturday night at The Landmark Nuart Theater people dress up to see “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a movie where the audience can actively participate in the showing by throwing toilet paper or other props at the screen and even slow dancing in the aisles.

“It’s a great way for people to connect with each other,” said Pagliassotti.

Theaters should embrace screening classic movies more because it gives audience members the chance to experience movies they love in a new way, and gives people a sense of community. While streaming movies at home is definitely more convenient, it pales in comparison to the theater experience.

“I used to go four to five times a week to see a film in a theater, before the pandemic, but all those films I used to go see are now available on Amazon Prime, on Criterion Collection, on Hulu…all these different streaming apps are absolutely fantastic because of the access, but it definitely has changed the way in which we view films,” said Interim Director of Film and Television at Cal Lutheran Nico Maestu.

Maestu, who also teaches film theory, believes that movie theaters will focus on releasing big event films. Big budget films with familiar IP’s from Marvel and DC, as well as classic films like Jaws and The Godfather.

While big blockbusters like Marvel movies are fun to watch, they can be repetitive at times because we’ve had two to three of them released annually since 2008.

However, it is clear that these big movies with star studded casts and expensive special effects are intended to be viewed on the big screen. They truly embrace the escapist nature of becoming immersed in a completely different world and they’re widely successful.

In the summer of 2013, before being bought out by Regal, The Janss Marketplace 9 theater in Thousand Oaks would offer weekly screenings of classic films. While the pandemic is still ongoing, I think more theaters should implement a day of the week for screenings of classic films. It would give moviegoers more variety in the films they watch.

If you get the chance, several theaters in Los Angeles offer screenings of classic movies. I highly recommend checking out a movie you love but have never seen on the big screen. It immerses you in the experience in a new way and allows you to experience the film with a community.