‘The Lion King’ Re-Release: Are We in 3D Overload?

Disney’s The Lion King is coming back to theaters on September 16, 2011. Great news, or greatest news?

Originally hitting theaters in 1994, The Lion King is returning for a special two-week run, this time in 3D. It will then be released on Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D on October 4, with the regular DVD format arriving on November 15. The last time you could buy The Lion King was in 2004, making this comeback kind of a big deal, especially if (like me) you grew up with the film but neglected to buy the DVD after your VHS tape bit the dust. Plus, the movie will only be available for a limited time, so you’d better buy that four-disc Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo pack you never knew you needed before it disappears into the Disney Vault again.

The Lion King is not the first movie, Disney or otherwise, to get the big screen re-release treatment. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, the original Star Wars trilogy, and Avatar have all returned to theaters in “special edition” form. Even The Lion King itself was revived in 2002 for IMAX. Clearly, re-releasing a film is a studio’s attempt to make more money off an established brand—but as a consumer, I don’t mind. The huge screens of the multiplex are a perk I’m willing to pay for, and one that only a studio’s re-release can provide.

Many older movies are being converted to 3D and brought back to theaters.

Many older movies are being converted to 3D and brought back to theaters.

Lately, though, 3D has become a large part of these re-releases. Titanic, Top Gun, and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace are all expected to be re-released to theaters in 3D in 2012, with the rest of the Star Wars series projected to follow in later years. Is 3D conversion a good enough reason to bring a film back to the theaters? By re-releasing titles in 3D, movie studios hope to introduce new generations to their products, as well as give current fans a chance to experience their favorite films in a new way. But given many moviegoers’ aversion to 3D for 3D’s sake, such a marketing strategy can backfire.

Is this 3D overload? Probably. Are these studios trying to squeeze more money out of me? Absolutely. But Disney, at least, has me hook, line, and sinker on this one. You can bet I’ll be watching The Lion King on the glorious big screen and buying that DVD before it heads back to the Vault. And I’m happy to ride the nostalgia wave for as long as Disney wants to keep putting animated classics back in theaters.

Are you going to see The Lion King in theaters? What do you think of all these 3D conversions of older movies? Is the 3D re-release a good marketing move, or a bad one?

 Main image is a screenshot from YouTube.

Rachel Hamsmith

When not writing for the blog, Rachel is a data entry specialist at QLP. She spends most of her free time consuming a variety of geeky TV shows, movies, and books, as well as funny cat videos and other Internet oddities. Otherwise, she moonlights as an editor for a literary magazine and tries to spend as much quality time as she can with friends and family. You can also connect with Rachel on Google+.


  1. Bret Bonnet

    I’ll be the first person in line to see this movie.

    Shaw, do you think your mom will be my date again? I paid last time so this round is on her! 🙂

  2. amy

    I’m so excited for this re-release and plan on seeing it again in theaters! I’ve only seen one movie in 3D (Disney’s Bolt, I think?) and I wasn’t super impressed. It could be because the addition of 3D didn’t add much to the overall plot, surprising I know 😉

    I’d see this movie again in theaters even if it wasn’t in 3D though, so you win this round Disney! If the original movie is as classic as Lion King then re-releasing is a good marketing move in my book. Watching this movie on a home screen can’t do justice that a movie screen can deliver, and a whole new generation can be introduced to Simba, Timone & Pumba 🙂

    Awesome post Rachel! I will now be humming “In the Jungle, the Lion Sleeps Tonight” all day hahahaha

    • Rachel

      “I’d see this movie again in theaters even if it wasn’t in 3D though, so you win this round Disney!”

      That’s my basic reasoning, too. I think that’s part of the problem with the whole 3D thing: if the movie doesn’t stand on its own as a good movie, 3D is not going to make it better. But luckily The Lion King is already super awesome, so no problems there! 🙂

      And I’ve totally had music from the movie stuck in my head all day, too. Glad I’m not the only one! 😉

  3. Mandy Kilinskis

    I hate 3D. Well, I don’t hate 3D if it’s done tastefully and actually adds to the viewing experience…but that doesn’t happen often. In fact, it rarely happens. In the case of the Lion King, that’s exactly what’s happening. The perk of the big screen is nice, but someone please tell me what in the Lion King would look AMAZING — or, excuse me, BREATHTAKING — in 3D that doesn’t already look killer in the masterful 2D.

    Luckily, 3D is on the downswing, as 3D showings made LESS than 2D this summer. (Check out this link to read more about that: And considering that everything seemed to be released in 3D, I find this incredibly amusing. I saw most of the big summer movies and I think that I only saw two in 3D. Neither was necessary and one was just throwing money away.

    tl;dr version: I think studios can generate interest for old movies/ride the nostalgia wave just as well without 3D, and for less cost to them and movie theaters.

    • Rachel

      Thanks for the link to that awesome article! It’s a really interesting piece.

      As for your comment about whether the Lion King would look “breathtaking” in 3D: I actually read an article from NPR that suggests the 3D didn’t do anything for Lion King, and might have made it look a little worse (article here: So yeah. I wonder, if Lion King does well these next two weeks, if movie studios will misinterpret that as “PEOPLE WANT MORE 3D MOVIES!!!” instead of “People love Lion King!”

  4. LK

    I don’t think I saw the Lion King when I was a kid and it was in theaters, or if I did go, I don’t remember it so I would probably go see the Lion King’s re-release, regardless if it was in 3D or not.
    I HATE when Disney’s movies go in the vault and you have to anxiously wait for them to be available again. I think re-releasing the movie in theaters is a good move because so many people are probably just as anxious to be able to see the movie again and it is a good way to get the word out that it will be available on DVD/Blu-ray.

    I haven’t seen a movie in 3D yet, and seeing as Lion King is one of my favorite childhood movies, I might just have to finally go see a 3D movie!

    • Rachel

      Agreed about the Disney Vault! It’s so frustrating–but it seems to be effective, or at least effective enough for Disney to keep doing it. I don’t normally buy a lot of DVDs, but I’ll get this one since I don’t want to go another 7 years without seeing The Lion King ever. 🙁 And you’re right, the theatrical re-release is definitely a good way to get the word out!

  5. Juliette

    Love the post, Rachel! The whole 3D craze is something that’s driving me nuts, personally. I have no depth perception and see everything as very flat and even the glasses for 3D movies doesn’t change that. Mostly what I’ve disliked about Hollywood’s suddenly love affair with it is that they are shooting scenes and angles just for the 3D effect, which is lost on me and folks like me.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see the Lion King on the big screen again…I just want to see it in a regular theater. 🙂 I love when they show some of my favorite older movies in theaters for a night or short run. I’ve had the chance to catch Nightmare on Elm Street, Labyrinth and Silence of the Lambs all in the past couple of years. None were in 3D but all were just as wonderful.

    And they’re seriously going to release Phantom Menace in 3D? The idea of Jar-Jar in 3D (even if I can’t see it) is the stuff of nightmares. 😉

    • Rachel

      “Mostly what I’ve disliked about Hollywood’s suddenly love affair with it is that they are shooting scenes and angles just for the 3D effect, which is lost on me and folks like me.”

      Bummer about not being able to see 3D. 🙁 And for anyone who can see 3D but doesn’t own a 3D TV, those fancy angles and shots done just for the 3D effect are lost again when it’s on home video! Another reason why gimmicky 3D has no lasting power, in my opinion.

      As for Jar-Jar: I know! If they’re going to start doing all of Star Wars in 3D, they should at least begin with the original trilogy. I don’t know if I can last through 3 years of the prequels just to get to the good stuff 🙂

      • Juliette

        It does suck a bit. I’ve seen in 3 dimensions all of twice in my life (once at the T2 ride at Universal Studios) and I remember thinking “Wow! Normaly people see like this all the time!!” It was a crazy experience. 🙂 But when I see a 3D movie with the glasses it just looks flat and the glasses get kinda weighty.

        And I hadn’t even thought about how few folks own 3D televisions. So for folks who saw the effect in the theater but don’t own the setup in their own home, I wonder if they’ll start to think that those “special shots and effects” are pretty silly.

        Agreed!! If they started with the original trilogy (minus all the new stuff…like Darth Vader’s new “Noooooo!!” in Jedi) I’d be all for it. As for the prequels, I was so disappointed with them that I won’t feel bad at all for skipping that re-release.

  6. Peemo

    3D gets the gasface.

    But The Lion King is awesome so I’ll be taking my kids.

    • Rachel

      A perfect summary of what seems to be a popular opinion! 🙂

  7. Jill Tooley

    I agree with most of the comments so far – LOVE the Lion King, but not so much the whole 3D concept. It was actually cool when 3D was a rarity that only showed up once in awhile, but now I cringe every time I see a movie commercial for it. It has become a ploy to squeeze more money out of people. Tis a shame!

    HOWEVER, if paying that extra $3-4 for goofy glasses is the only way I’ll get to see The Lion King in theaters again, I’d gladly do it! This is one of the first movies I remember going to the theater to see when I was younger (we didn’t go to the movies much back then, we usually waited for the VHS), so it’s going to bring all sorts of fond memories back! 🙂

    And in case you’re wondering – I’ll probably be shelling out money for the blu-ray when it comes out as well. The Disney Vault makes me crazy, but it’s effective in getting fans to buy ASAP! Thanks for the info, Rachel.

    • Rachel

      I have no memory of seeing movies in the theaters as a child–I’m sure I did, but I have no idea what ones–so seeing the Lion King on the big screen now is going be like a whole new experience for me! So yeah, I’m like you: I have to spend more for the 3D, but I’ll do it just to see this movie in theaters.

      And I’ll probably get the DVD, not the Blu-ray, since we don’t have any of that fancy equipment yet–and then I’ll probably regret it a few years down the line when I want Lion King in hi-def but it’s back in the Vault. Oh well! 😉

  8. Joseph Giorgi

    “Great news, or greatest news?”

    Great news! Don’t get me wrong — I’m pumped about Lion King getting the 3D re-release treatment, but I’ve got to admit that I’m more psyched about the prospect of a 3D Top Gun. THAT’S the “greatest news” for me! 😉 Still, Lion King will most definitely be a landmark 3D release. In all honesty, it’s well suited to 3D presentation to begin with — what with the iconic animated visuals and all.

    Also, I love the tone of this post, Rachel. I pretty much feel the same way. These re-releases may be shallow attempts by studios to cash in on the average consumer’s love of the franchises, but at least we consumers have them as an option. At the end of the day, most 3D conversions probably aren’t necessary, but they’re still fun to watch — for those who care to watch them, that is.

    Excellent post! 😀

    • Rachel

      Hah, the news about 3D Top Gun actually got a big “WTF” reaction from me–but I’ve never been a huge fan of Top Gun, so I guess I’m a bit biased. I suppose the flight scenes would be pretty sweet, though!

      And your last paragraph pretty much exactly sums up how I feel–I’m glad we’re on the same page there! 🙂

  9. Jen

    I would see the Lion King in theaters again, but only if it’s in 2D. The 3D makes me sick 🙁 Weird, I know. I might also be tempted to buy the Blue Ray when it’s released too.

    This was one of my favorites growing up! I can’t wait to watch it again.
    I <3 J.T.T. forever! LOL

    Nice Post Rachel!

    • Rachel

      I’ve heard a lot of people say that 3D makes their heads hurt–such a bummer. 🙁 I get pretty bad motion sickness, so I’m actually surprised 3D doesn’t really affect me in most cases. I think Lion King is only playing in 3D in theaters … but at least you’ll be able to watch it on DVD or Blu-ray later, right? 🙂

      And whoooo, J.T.T!

  10. Angela Hager

    I’m going to go with “great news.” Greatest would be if I had the option of 2D. Because I hate 3D with an irrational passion. Even when it’s done well, like “Tangled.” I saw Tangled in both formats, and I enjoyed it much more in 2D, and that was the second time.

    • Rachel

      I only saw Tangled in 2D and didn’t think it needed 3D at all–glad to hear I didn’t waste my money by seeing it again in 3D! It *is* a little disappointing that they aren’t showing Lion King in 2D anywhere for this theatrical release, so that there was at least an option. One more way for Disney to squeeze money out of me, by forcing me to pay the 3D premium if I want to see this on the big screen!

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Angela! 🙂

  11. Stantz

    Can we please get a blog about the Ghostbusters re-release next month (and how it may be trying to generate buzz for Ghostbusters 3)? :p

    Giorgi, are you on this? 😉

    • Rachel

      I heard about that! Doesn’t seem to be any information about whether it’s been given the 3D conversion treatment, so hopefully they left well enough alone and will keep it in its original 2D. 🙂

  12. JPorretto

    This gets a resounding “meh” from me. I’ve seen one movie in 3D: Transformers 3. I’ve been told its one of the greatest uses of 3D ever. So if that’s the best, then I’m not that impressed. It was cool, but not a game changer by any means.

    Though shockingly, I’ve never seen the Lion King….(pauses for second audible gasp of the week. See: Brookfield Zoo post)… so maybe I’ll go see it anyway.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Jeff, I’m seriously concerned about your participation in society. What have you been doing the last, oh, 20 years?

      • Amy Swanson

        You seem so normal Jeff and then you bring up that you’ve never been to the zoo or seen ‘The Lion King’. I’m shocked and worry about your societal participation along with Mandy.

        LOL 😉

    • Rachel

      I’ve seen a few movies in 3D, but nothing that’s made me want to run out and see everything in that format. I think the first 3D movie I saw was Toy Story 3, which was very subtle in its use of 3D–so subtle that it didn’t really feel worth the price for the extra dimension. I think there’s potential there for movies to use 3D in a cool way, but no one’s really found it yet.

      You must go see Lion King!! Even if it’s only renting the DVD. Such a good movie 🙂

  13. Eric

    I’m actually a big fan of movie theaters re-releasing films in the actual movie theaters. There are films I’d LOVE to see on the big screen, with surround sound, again (“Jurassic Park” is just one of those films designed for a big, dark, loud theater). I wish they’d do more of it, because otherwise, you’re relegated to whatever’s playing at The Music Box in Chicago.

    Mandy’s hit the nail on the head, though. What always made Disney’s [2-D] films special – to me – was how much they accomplished WITHOUT the need for 3-D glasses, and how rich, how colorful, and how imaginative they were working with ***what little they had***. 3-D doesn’t require any artistry for me.

    Lion King. Titanic in 3-D.

    Let’s ask ourselves this…would they ever make a pop-up book out of a classic novel?

    I doubt it. And there’s a good reason for it.

    If the story’s there, if the characters are there, and especially if their imagination’s evident…we can do all the work ourselves as the audience. 3-D assumes we’re not imaginative enough.

    Great post, Rachel. This one’s sure to have some good feedback (and looks like it already has quite a bit!).

    • Rachel

      You make a great point about how much movie makers can accomplish when working within limits. In my opinion, some of the best movies–as well as other types of art–come from people working within restrictions instead of being able to do anything at any budget. It creates the need for imagination and innovation. And like you say, it all boils down to good story and good characters. 3D can’t save a movie if it sucks already!

      PS, making pop-up books out of classic novels could be really awesome if done right! I’m just sayin… 😉

  14. Amanda

    Nice post Rachel! This is a movie I’d consider seeing in 3D–but it would really only be for the 3D, since I’ve already seen it in 2D a few times. I am a fan of 3D in general, but do agree that not every movie needs to be in 3D and that sometimes it doesn’t make the show any better. But I do think 3D add some fun and excitement–especially to animated movies. The Smurfs in 3D was awesome, and the 3D added a lot to it in my opinion. I also think it’s a cool idea for them to bring back older movies to the theaters–most movies have much more impact on that huge screen–and they’re fun to watch again in that format.

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