I am dismayed by the recent events involving "Gone With the Wind" and its future with Warner Bros. theatrically and in home video formats. I was hoping there would be theatrical and blu-ray/dvd reissues of the film this year in connection with the 75th anniversary of GWTW, Wizard of Oz, and all the other classic films released in 1939. As it turns out, for some unknown reason, WB has pulled all theatrical licensing of GWTW from theaters that have already booked the film until October. The only showing allowed is at TCM's April festival in LA. All the other showings booked at revival theaters, as previously mentioned, have been canceled. The reason given?--to build interest for a re-release after October. WB has claimed this will not be a theatrical reissue-therefore, it must be a video release. But, have we heard ANYTHING about this? No. Nothing.
Besides, I fail to see how blocking theatrical showings will build interest in yet another home video release, since GWTW has been available since 1985. The blu-ray release five years ago is gorgeous and, by now, unless they're offering that legendary "lost scenes" footage we've heard so much about over the years or something else new (WofOz did have something new--3d), I doubt sales will be fabulous--not unless there's something new to be offered. You can find GWTW for $10 on blu-ray. If they wanted to build interest, they should have blocked television showings and video availability. The people who want to see it in a theater want to see it because it's on the big screen--this has no relation to whether or not they would buy the film on video.
In addition, WB and the Academy also decided to only honor Wizard of Oz at the Academy Awards this year. An interesting article in Entertainment Weekly recently believes this is because it would be in poor taste to honor GWTW with its unfortunate racial depictions on the same program that would possibly be awarding the excellent "Twelve Years a Slave" a Best Picture Oscar. This is probably true...but I at least wish they could have chosen to honor ALL the classic films released 75 years ago.
It may very well be that Oz has a broader fan base than GWTW. For one thing, it appeals to children and many of us remember it as an annual fixture on television. There is nothing objectionable in it, whereas GWTW is understandably controversial because of its negative and stereotypical racial depictions of African Americans. It would be impossible to tell a story from the Confederate point of view and NOT have it be controversial and, yes, it perpetrated the myth of the Glorious Cause and the Old South. It also is perhaps more dated in some ways.
However, GWTW is certainly not without its fans and it, along with Oz and Casablanca remain the most popular classic films every year in revival theaters and classic film festivals. I have attended recent showings that were very well attended by audience members of all ages. It also should be noted that the film has been in theatrical rerelease nationally in the UK since November as part of a celebration honoring Vivien Leigh. It is legendary and one of the greatest classics in film history.
I hope Warner Bros. isn't on its way to pulling this film out of the public eye. Last year, Warner Home Video announced that they would be reissuing both Oz and GWTW. I haven't heard anything about GWTW. Does anyone know anything? I wish I could find out more. Thanks,