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 FathomEvents.com.