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Feature Film

‘The Iron Giant’ Will (Finally) Return to Theaters in September [UPDATED]

At long last, Brad Bird’s animated masterpiece of war and peace is back.

Warner Bros. and Fathom Events will release in limited engagement a remastered “Signature Edition” with two new scenes. Special-event screenings touchdown September 30 at 7:00pm in participating theaters nationwide, and encores follow on October 4 at noon.

Here’s the new poster:


The two new scenes are unknown at this point, but based on Bird’s own comments, one of those scenes could likely be the “Giant’s Dream” sequence. “I think the film works fine without it,” Bird has said in the past, but “I just think it would have been a little bit better with it.” [UPDATE: The animation studio for the new sequences is Duncan Studio. The news was confirmed online earlier today by an animator who worked on the sequence. However, eagle-eyed industry observers may have already figured out Duncan Studio’s involvement from the photo that studio owner Ken Duncan posted on Facebook back in May with Brad Bird and Iron Giant effects designer Michel Gagné or the crew photo on their Facebook page for an unidentified “Project X.”]

It’s not the proper theatrical reissue along the lines of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner that Bird has pressed Warner Bros. for over the last few years, but it’s something. Because watching The Iron Giant’s cathartic yet hilarious tale of a boy and his robot (and all that implies) does pay off, achieving through a blend of hand-drawn and computer-generated animation a tragicomic exploration of agency in an age of paranoia and other weapons of mass destruction.

Released in 1999, The Iron Giant appeared all too briefly in theaters, unsupported by its studio and overshadowed by pre-9/11 CGI dystopias like The Phantom Menace and The Matrix. But its apocalyptic optimism has deservedly grown in stature with the passage of time, so this short theatrical reissue, followed by a high-def digital release this fall, could be a preview of things to come.

Which, it should be noted, is how things should have been in the first place.

“I love that The Iron Giant has had a resilient afterlife,” Bird told me in 2011. “It was kind of rough when the film came out, because we all worked really hard on it. No one really seemed to know what it was when it was released, and not that many saw it in theaters. We kept getting these really strange reports of only 30 people being in the theaters, although the 30 would spontaneously applaud at the end. So it was bittersweet: People really reacted well to it, but there were only a handful of them. But the fact that it has endured, and that people are gradually discovering it, really makes all of us who worked on it feel really great.”

Ticket on-sale date and theater locations for The Iron Giant: Signature Edition will be announced this online in August at

  • Paul Briggs
    • Matt

      Hey Paul awesome concept you got there. And Dean Wellins that man delivered grade A animation on Iron Giant week after week and loads of it as well. I am hoping that the re release of this film just might light a fire for 2D once more. I worked in EFX on the movie and am excited to see it again in the theatre.

    • Now that’s a sequel!

  • Rick Farmiloe

    Duncan Studio did the new animation. I was one of the VERY lucky animators.

  • Jamz

    Watch it making more money than Tomorrowland!

  • John A

    I love the new poster. I wish that was the key graphic when the movie was first released.

    1999 was a weird year. It seemed all the studios were doing the best they could to kill 2-D animation.

    • Mack

      You think Tarzan, which made $448 million worldwide, has a 88% RT score, and won an Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe, was Disney trying to kill 2-D animation?

      • John A

        Management was never happy with any of the animated movie’s numbers post Lion King. They had it in their head that every new film should make 20% more than the previous one, regardless of the subject or the target audience. When that didn’t happen, Eisner began to vocally contemplate sending all animation work overseas.

  • Definitely going to attend a screening! I can’t believe this is finally happening, even if it’s a minuscule release!

  • mbanimation

    Hopefully that special edition Blu-ray Bird keeps talking about will follow.

    • RCooke

      With interviews by the films directing animator Tony Fucile, the film’s production designer Alan Bodner, editor Darren Holmes,Artistic Coordinator Scott Johnston, Storyboard artist Piet Kroon and other key members of the crew.

  • Craig Glatt

    Big fan of this film!

  • cartoonguy

    I loved Iron Giant – saw it in theaters as a 19 year old – but the marketing was truly terrible. I guess they were trying to harken back to 1950s horror movies but I remember lots of “IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE!!!” ads in comic books that had nothing to do with the story or the tone of the film. Hope the movie does well on its extremely limited re-release… and I hope the added parts really do add more to the movie than just extended running time. I’ll definitely be there.

  • Austin

    Oh, wonderful! Duncan Studios did such a wonderful job with Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters, so I’m happy they’re getting more work in traditional animation. It just shows that the animators from 20 years ago still have it.

  • I’m so excited! I’ve been teaching a class of kids traditional stop motion, and when I asked what forms of animation they knew about, nobody said hand drawn. I had to bring it up. With Song of the Sea and now this, I’m hoping people will get excited about future projects in alternative styles.

  • Doug

    I want that poster! Gorgeous.

  • randomshoe

    I’m going to go see this. JUST TRY AND STOP ME

  • Mark Marderosian

    I was always a bit surprised when I read later that it didn’t do that well when initially released because when I saw it, the theater was full that afternoon. I saw it with my then-13 year old daughter, other families and a whole bus load of cub scouts. Everyone clapped at end. My daughter and I loved it. Never before or since has the utterance of the single word “Superman” held such amazing weight, meaning and emotion.

    • Magic robot

      the reason it didn’t do too well is because it didn’t get enough marketing one big reason why movies fail sometimes is bad marketing the same thing happened to powerpuff girls the movie i hope they don’t make the same mistake twice

    • That pretty much painted my experience with The Iron Giant too, the theater was mostly moms and their kids. It made me feel rather intimidated for being a grown adult seeing a movie that was being aimed at that demographic, when it really deserved better.

  • Fantino

    I bet Teddy Newton designed that poster…

  • Shaun Middleton

    I am GROOT.