I've had about 14 hours, now, to digest the news that I learned from the Pulaski Theater in Pulaski, Virginia on their facebook page today. It was the following:
I have to make what I would consider the worst announcement I've had to make as administrator of this page. We received news from Warner Bros. yesterday that they have pulled all licensing for "Gone With The Wind" until October of this year in order to re-release it for it's 75th Anniversary. The excitement and interest we have received over us screening this wonderful film has been overwhelming, as is our disappointment in now having to announce that we cannot show it at this time. We WILL however show it just as soon as possible. We're hoping that perhaps we can have something like a re-release celebration. Again, we can't stress enough our displeasure of having to postpone this film. It is always distressing for us to let you down. As soon as we know what we'll be replacing it with, we'll make an announcement. Thank you all for all your support!
Up through today I had already announced on GWTW screenings in multiple independent theaters across the country including the Pulaski Theater in Pulaski, VA; the Orpheum in Wichita, KS; the State Theatre in Bay City, Michigan; the Kirby Cultural Arts Complex in Roxboro, NC and even more.
I was getting even more excited as I anticipated screenings at the theaters that have become like old friends including the Alabama Theater in Birmingham, Alabama; the Varsity Theater in Chapel Hill, NC; the Paramount Theater in Austin, TX; the Film Forum in New York City; the Tennessee Theater in Knoxville, TN; the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, CA; the Kentucky Theater of Lexington, KY and the theater of my home city, the Orpheum Theater of Memphis, TN. I expected more independent theaters to be celebrating GWTW this year than in years past and I was ready to commit myself to finding and reporting every screening I could in an effort to bring the GWTW fans to the closest experience of seeing GWTW like it was when it was released and re-released. I was anticipating a year of celebration with independent theaters and fans.
Today, all of that was taken away. This year will be known as the missing 75th anniversary of Gone With the Wind. In a decision that I was predicting and yet hoping wouldn't come to fruition, Warner Brothers has pulled the license to show Gone With the Wind, until October to build up for the 75th anniversary re-release. Now, this might on the surface sound like a good thing, but anyone who follows this film or knows about the cycle of summer classic film festivals, will quickly realize, GWTW and her fans will miss out on the largest part of celebrating its 75th anniversary. The theaters this hurts are the ones who've been there year in and year out filling their theaters by screening the film and bringing it to audiences. I simply cannot imagine in the 75th year of Gone With the Wind that it will be forced to be absent from the very screens where it has become the most beloved by both theater owners and fans!
In the summer of 1989 while in middle school, I saw GWTW on the big screen for the first time at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis. It was a glorious moment of sharing the experience with an audience in a historical theater and sharing my love of this film with the late Pat McCarver, GWTW fan, collector, and aficionado. It was magical. Since that summer, I have seen GWTW at least 20 times in the the theater, many of which I mentioned above. I am heartbroken that in this 75th year celebration of GWTW that it will be absent from those theaters. I was proud, in 2005, to be part of the audience at the Tennessee Theater that sold out all 3 screenings in a weekend in pre-sale, a record that had never before been set with a film in that theater.
Please understand, I am not opposed to a national re-release. I hope it happens and goes well. I hope it's great. I fully support bringing this film to the larger audience of today in the theaters and in the format where they are most comfortable with seeing films. It is the process by which GWTW is passed on to the most people. So, I support a national re-release. I expect to write more about that in the coming days and weeks.
But, what has happened here is that for 10 months of the year of the 75th anniversary of GWTW, GWTW will be absent and it will be illegal for anyone to screen the film (with the very specific exception of the TCM film festival). With all due respect to Warner Brothers, this is not fair to the theaters who already had licenses to screen the film. This is not fair to the theaters that have been the biggest champions of this film. Mostly, this is not fair to their audiences who have been waiting in anticipation for a very long time for this year to come about.
To say I am disappointed is an understatement. I am truly heartbroken that I will not be able to share in the theaters that I love the joy of the 75th anniversary of Gone With the Wind.
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Olivia de Havilland has reached her centenary! July 1, 2016 marks her 100th birthday! Olivia stands as the oldest living recipient of an Academy Award and is a member of a class of only four other women currently living to receive at least two best actress Academy Awards! Her career, life, and legacy continue to inspire and engage generations of fans around the world!
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