Critics pay respect to "Gone with the Wind," but will moviegoers open their wallets for its rerelease?
The South rises again: “Gone with the Wind” (the 1939 classic starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh) is being rereleased today in 150 theaters. New Line spent about $1 million to refurbish the picture and sound quality of the eight-time Academy Award-winner, which was just named the fourth best American film ever by the American Film Institute. The studio is marketing this theatrical rerelease as an event — but, frankly, audiences might not give a damn. After all, the film has been everywhere but movie theaters for the past twenty years: The first time it aired on television in 1976, “Wind” was a smash, earning NBC record ratings for an entertainment show. But since then it has aired repeatedly and is available on video. “How often does TNT show the thing?” says Entertainment Weekly critic Ty Burr. “It’s not like it’s an unsung masterpiece.”
When adjusted for inflation, “Wind” is still the all-time box office champ, with $2.1 billion in ticket sales. This time around, though, its take will probably come closer to last year’s “Godfather” rerelease (which grossed $1.1 million) than to “Star Wars”‘ $140 million take in 1997: Tara just doesn’t strike the same nostalgic chord as a Jawa. “I don’t see parents taking their kids to see it the way they took them to see ‘Star Wars,'” says Burr. “‘Gone with the Wind’ may be an event, but it’s not an event within the memory of most active moviegoers. It’s not a recapturing of our childhood the way ‘Star Wars’ is. To the average person, ‘Star Wars’ is a classic movie, but ‘Gone with the Wind’ is just an oldie.”