"Newsies" is probably the oddest film ever released under the "Walt Disney Pictures" banner.
The time devoted to post-production was compressed (to the film's considerable detriment) in order to allow the studio to bury the expected embarrassment in the Springtime. And, as expected, the film died a quick death in theatres while gaining little support among critics, except the late and great Gene Siskel who never met a musical he didn't like and who clearly appreciated Disney's attempt to revive the live-action version of the genre.
Upon reaching VHS, "Newsies" took a strange turn. Expecting very little interest from anyone, Buena Vista priced the title to be sold to video-rental stores, instead of directly to consumers. And, little by little, the title found its audience who not only rented the movie once but became obsessed with it enough to rent it repeatedly, making it the most rented live-action video in Disney history. Audiences, then, went out of their way to buy used copies from the video-rental stores, leading the company to eventually sell the film directly to consumers when it became the most successful live-action Disney video in the company's portfolio.
Despite this cult following, "Newsies" is still a virtually-unwatchable film. It is simultaneously among my most and least favorite live-action titles that has ever carried the Disney name, so I would like to see the thing fixed since much of it is salvageable, since a stage production is opening this month in New York, and since a re-release to theatres would work well with: new marketing; a 3-D format; new editing; a new sound mix; additional music; new A.D.R.; better focus on the protagonist who is performed by an actor who is now a bankable star; reinstated footage; and, new footage, especially C.G.I. in the form of establishment shots that can let the claustrophobic, but still smashing, production design breathe. (The film's modest $22 million budget achieved sumptuous aesthetics otherwise, especially the director of photography's consistently-evocative use of light that, interestingly, reminds me of Disneyland.)
Like other Disney franchises, "Newsies" deserves a subtle presence in Disneyland, itself, and not just in the form of a Red Car-centered homage at the California park. Walt Disney was a newspaper boy at the turn-of-the-19th-Century, and the story, characters, and music lend themselves in some ways to the period setting found in his universalized autobiography that is Main Street, U.S.A.
Of course, if a re-release of a re-edited film to cinemas is planned, a more overt presence in the form of a promotional "Carrying the Banner" ticker-tape parade on Main Street, U.S.A., for example, might do something that Disneyland has rarely done there before in that the fictitious event would support the fictitious setting.