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Can Classic Movies Save Hollywood’s Summer?

'Phantom Menace' comes in second while first place 'Fall Guy' panics Tinsel Town

It happened again.

Another “old” movie – 20-plus years after its theatrical debut – made serious noise at the box office.

Last month, “Spider-Man 2” briefly came in second place at theaters nationwide. The 1979 film classic “Alien” nearly cracked the Top 10 last weekend.

And The Force proved remarkably strong … again.

Over the weekend, “The Phantom Menace” scared up $8 million on just 2,700 screens. Most new releases earn between 3,500 to 4,000 screens.

Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace 25th Anniversary Re-Release Featurette- Screenvision (2024)

At least “Spider-Man 2” is considered a beloved superhero film. “The Phantom Menace” earned its poor standing with many “Star Wars” fans – at least until Disney forked over $4 billion for the space saga.

Now, nostalgia is helping us forget the film’s flaws, like Jar-Jar Banks. 

We’ve been seeing classic film re-releases for some time now. Fathom Events often delivers the goods, focusing on films dating back decades.

Nothing particularly new there, at least on paper.

The number of classic film re-releases appears to be growing. So are the box office receipts. “The Phantom Menace” out-earned the second weekend of “Challengers” as well as the debut frame for “Tarot,” a horror movie in wide release.

Not too shabby.

Meanwhile, Disney’s recent attempts to give recent Pixar movies like “Soul” and “Luca” the theatrical release COVID-19 denied them failed. Miserably.

Nostalgia doesn’t kick in for recent films.

What does it mean in the big picture? We could see more classic films alongside summer blockbusters in the coming months. Here’s why that could benefit Hollywood.

These re-releases appeal to an older demographic, one far less eager to visit theaters of late. Older crowds, in turn, could bring their children and grandchildren to experience magical films in theaters once more.


Suddenly, the simple act of movie going becomes a family affair and, perhaps, a renewed habit.

These movies long ago paid back their budgets, meaning Hollywood has little to lose by re-releasing them. Bank on pure nostalgia and canny marketing angles, and you’ve got awareness in spades.

“The Phantom Menace” graced theaters just in time for the “May the Fourth Be with You” festivities. 

Hollywood needs all the help it can get this summer.

“The Fall Guy,” which unofficially kicked off the summer movie season, flatlined with $28 million in its debut frame. That’s no way for a blockbuster to start, and the film’s $130 million budget means the movie better have serious legs, or else.

The coming months feature few no-brainers beyond “Deadpool and Wolverine,” “A Quiet Place: Day One” and, perhaps, “Inside Out 2.”

Disney’s brand woes may actually hurt what should be a can’t miss sequel.

The rest of the summer lineup teems with question marks.

Do audiences still care about the “Planet of the Apes” franchise? Will Will Smith’s Oscar antics dent the fourth “Bad Boys” film? Can a “Road Warrior” prequel ignite the sporadic saga?

Classic re-releases won’t make serious coin, but if they cushion a bummer summer and reignite the passion for film going, it could make summer brighter for studios … and us.


  1. If the recent trend of 90%+ of new movies being politically driven garbage, then I’m all in favor of classic movies on the big screen. A theater in my town runs many almost weekly, and I’ve managed to catch 2001 A Space Odyssey, The Godfather, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, and many others on the big screen for the first time. Several of my friends got to see classics they’ve never seen before as if just released, and they always enjoyed the experience.

  2. There’s an Alien movie based on the rescue ship at the beginning of Aliens – Alien: Romulus. It’s coming in August. I’m hoping it’s not woke feminist crap but more like Sigourney Weaver’s Alien movies.

  3. Aliens theatrical release happened before i was born.. so hell yes i caught it in the theaters last week. keep ‘em coming!

  4. Many weren’t impressed by “The Phantom Menace”, but I guess they hated Sequel Trilogy much more. Classic Star Wars has George Lucas all over it. The stench or JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson needs a deep wash.

    1. The Phantom Menace’s big problems were Jar Jar Binks and the pod race. Its positives were Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor and seeing Jedi work at the peak of their abilities as well as the best light saber fight in the whole series.

  5. Put me down for Planet of the Apes and Quiet Place. The Road Warrior flick makes me nervous – another feminist screed?

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