The Iron Giant is one of my all-time favorite movies, but I’ve never gotten to see it on the big screen. It was a cult hit that found its audience on home video, and while its fan base has grown over time, Warner Bros. has been hesitant about how to capitalize on the film’s popularity.
Although the film’s 15th anniversary was last year, the studio may be giving The Iron Giant some love in 2015. Steve recently heard a rumor that the film will be re-released some time this year, and spoke with director Brad Bird about the legitimacy of that rumor at the Tomorrowland junket. Here’s the video.
Bird confirmed that there is something happening with The Iron Giant, although he noted that he and Warner Bros. have been talking about the film for a long while:
BRAD BIRD: Listen, Warner Bros. and I have danced on and off for the last decade. There was going to be a 5-year-thing; there was talk about it being in 3D at one point. Then there was talk about reformatting it for IMAX or whatever. Discussions keep happening, but I think something will happen fairly soon. They know that people have a fondness for it. They don’t know exactly how to deal with that beyond maybe a Blu-ray or something like that. And I keep saying, “You know, you did it for Wizard of Oz and you did it for Blade Runner. I think you actually can do it.” And I think they’re kind of coming around to that idea. I’m trying to find the best way to support something like that.
I can understand Warner Bros.’ hesitation. How do you measure cult status? You can look at the number of DVDs sold, but that’s only part of the story. And while Bird can point to Wizard of Oz and Blade Runner, those movies had the support of audiences and critics for decades before they got the royal treatment. The Iron Giant hasn’t reached that point. It has a growing and devoted audience, but we’re not expansive. Thankfully, Bird hasn’t forgotten about us.
Steve tried to push a little harder on the release strategy for the film and inferred that a small re-release would come this year before a Blu-ray (Bird has said in the past that he only wants an Iron Giant Blu-ray if the studio does it up right) , but Bird replied, “I wouldn’t say ‘later this year’ because people might hold you to it. These things take a little more time—They will happen in good time. Just say that things are looking up for Iron Giant.”
The director then specified that multiple distribution methods mean much better chances for a theatrical release of The Iron Giant:
BIRD: Going back into the movie theater can mean a lot of things. It could mean a studio re-release. It could mean a smaller re-release like Wizard of OZ 3D. It could mean as small a release as a Fathom Event where they show it one night only. So that whole arena is changing and becoming a much more flexible arena. So when it becomes that flexible, it becomes less scary to a studio because they’re hemmed into one, super-expensive, risky thing. They can try it a number of different ways. I think the main thing Warner Bros. has to hear is that there’s an audience for it.
When people went back and saw Lion King because it was in 3D, I think the 3D was just a thing to throw them a bone. I think actually a lot of people just wanted to see it in a theater again and be around other people while they saw it. Part of the attraction of movies is not just a big screen. It’s being with strangers and sharing a dream at the same moment. Anything that kind of bolsters the confidence in the theatrical experience I think is good. I would love to see Iron Giant get back into theaters even if only for a week.
First, I think Bird seized on the beautiful thing about the theatrical experience, which is that while we can get VOD and stream thousands of movies, we will never recapture a theatrical experience that has everything to do with people, not the size of the screen.
Second, I don’t want to say exactly how far I would drive to see The Iron Giant on the big screen, but I would consider going into another state if I had to. And I would do that even if it were in 3D. Hopefully, I won’t have to do either and the film will get a 2D re-release before finally coming to Blu-ray. But more than anything, I just want to see one of my favorite movies in a theater even if only for a day.