Analyst: 3D Re-Releases Could Boost Annual U.S. Box Office by $200 million-$300 Million

Walt Disney

MKM Partners' Eric Handler says such titles as "E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial," "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and "Jurassic Park" could make sense as re-issues during months with seasonally weaker box office after the success of the return of "The Lion King."

NEW YORK - Re-releasing select classic movies in 3D could contribute $200 million-$300 million to the U.S. box office per year, MKM Partners analyst Eric Handler estimated in a report Wednesday.

It came a day after Walt Disney said it would re-release in 3D four movies over the next couple of years following the success of The Lion King re-issue in 3D, which has approached $80 million in the U.S.
"We view this decision and the likelihood of more major blockbuster titles being reformatted for a 3D re-release as an attractive opportunity for the Hollywood studios and movie theater operators such as Cinemark and Regal," Handler wrote. "Having a select number of “classic” films reformatted in 3D during traditionally slow release periods could contribute $200 million-$300 million of domestic box office revenue on an annual basis."

He added: "There is likely a comparable international opportunity as well."

Handler suggested that such films make most sense during seasonally slow months as September and October, which account for approximately 5.4 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively, of the year’s total box office, as well as February-April.

Hollywood studios could benefit from re-releases as they can "freshen a catalog title and not only drive box office sales, but also reinvigorate downstream revenue drivers and consumer product distribution," Handler argued. "For the exhibitors, the appeal is high for a classic film re-release at a premium price point as it offers moviegoers a well recognizable tentpole type of title to see in what would most likely be a seasonally slow period that is lacking in big budget content."

Four 3D re-releases are slated for 2012, followed by two more in 2013. Beyond the Disney titles, they include Fox's Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace and Titanic.

"Possible films that make sense for future 3D re-release, in our opinion, include those that have been out of the spotlight for some time  that can attract family audiences, are well remembered franchises, or boast big special effects appeal that could translate well in 3D," Handler said, suggesting the likes of Aladdin and E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial could make sense along with franchises, such as The Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park.

"Possible one-off titles that could appeal to audiences include Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, Ghostbusters or possibly Independence Day," he added.


Twitter: @georgszalai