It's hard to believe that the much underappreciated animated feature, Iron Giant, was originally released on VHS. Of course, the film was released in 1999 to wide critical acclaim, but did poorly at the box office. According to a 2015 interview with the director, Brad Bird, the film had poor marketing:
The Iron Giant was largely a theatrical failure due in part to poor promotion from Warner Bros. This was largely attributable to the reception of Quest for Camelot; after its release, Warner would not give Bird and his team a release date for their film until April 1999. After wildly successful test screenings, the studio was shocked by the response: the test scores were their highest for a film in 15 years, according to Bird. They had neglected to prepare a successful marketing strategy for the film--such as cereal and fast food tie-ins--with little time left before its scheduled release. Bird remembered that the studio only produced one teaser poster for the film, which became its eventual poster
How a major studio could bungle the opening of such a wonderful animated film is beyond me, unless you take into account that Iron Giant came long before the current boom in animated films. Plus, there has always been a distinct prejudice towards animated films as being "kids films" and there was little respect for the artistry involved. Imagine Iron Giant being produced today! With Despicable Me 2 making well over 300 million dollars at the box office recently, Iron Giant (which is 10 times better than DM2) would clean up.
But those are the breaks in the Hollywood game. Timing and luck often have so much to do with any films success.
But with the new Signature Edition of Iron Giant and a major theatrical release planned for September, 2016, we have a chance to re-examine this remarkable animated film and perhaps give it some of the love at the box office and shopping cart that the film so richly deserves.
Brad Bird, Genius Filmmaker
Don't get me started on how great Brad Bird is as a filmmaker cause I'll get on my soapbox and go for hours. Suffice to say, Iron Giant was his first major animated film and although there is a distinct "Disney feel" to the overall look at plotting of the film, you can still see many of ideas and bits that will be realized more fully in later films like The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Of course, the Disney quality makes sense as Brad worked as an animator for Disney and was mentored by Milt Kahl, one of Disney's Nine Old Men.
What I particularly loved about watching this "director's cut" of Iron Giant was how artfully filmed and beautifully paced the film is. In no time you are halfway through the film before you even start to realize you have started watching it; so powerful is the storytelling spell that Iron Giant casts on you. And this blu ray version is flawless, especially if you have a large tv. Colors are perfect, too. The film has that touch of grain to it which gives a "film look". And the sound is so damn good. And the blu ray disc is stacked with special features including a brand-new "making of" documentary which is one of the best I have ever seen for a film.
Iron giant is a near masterpiece and this new blu ray Signature Edition will excite an entirely new generation of fans. You owe it to yourself to pick up this new disc as it's so cheaply priced ($10 at Amazon for a new copy at the time I'm writing this) and such an essential film for animation fans. Hell, for anyone who likes films!
image taken from blu-ray.com review of Iron Giant Signature Edition