Over the weekend George Lucas was at the “Star Wars” Celebration V convention in Orlando, Florida and announced Fox Home Entertainment and Lucasfilm will be bringing all six Star Wars films to Blu-ray in one box set in Fall 2011. The set will include the 1997 special editions of the first three Star Wars films (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) and the three prequels (Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith).
Along with the six films there will be a series of extensive special features including documentaries, vintage behind-the-scenes moments, interviews, retrospectives and previously unseen footage such as the deleted scene to the right from Return of the Jedi, which was shown to the Celebration V crowd and features Luke Skywalker asembling his new lightsaber before going to Jabba’s palace.
It was not made apparent how much the set will cost or if the films will be sold individually, but if the 2004 release of the original Star Wars trilogy on DVD is any indication don’t expect to be able to cherry pick your favorite titles or simply buy the original trilogy on its own. Don’t worry, they will likely be sold individually later down the line as soon as Lucas has all of his dedicated fanbase’s money he thinks he can get. To be honest, Lucas’s greed has never been so apparent.
In an interview with Dav Itzkoff of the “New York Times” Lucas revealed the reasons he wasn’t planning on bringing the original versions of the first trilogy to Blu-ray calling it “kind of an oxymoron because the quality of the original is not very good.”
“You have to go through and do a whole restoration on it, and you have to do that digitally,” he added. “It’s a very, very expensive process to do it. So when we did the transfer to digital, we only transferred really the upgraded version… Unfortunately, the recent releases get priority over what we call the classic versions of things.” Yeah George, that’s in the cases where people actually prefer the recent releases over the “classic versions.”
This is the part that really gets me. Personally, I’m all for a director presenting the version of his/her film the way they see fit. It’s their film, they should be able to do what they want with it, but Lucas’s reasoning here doesn’t sound like that, it simply sounds like a man concerned about saving money. This, of course, is the guy that has marketed Star Wars into the ground, most recently exemplified with the awful Adidas commercial to the right.
Even better, he is telling the “New York Times” it’s too expensive all while he has just announced the Blu-ray plans to a group of fans at a “Star Wars” Celebration convention where individual day passes cost anywhere from $55-60 or $145 for an adult four-day pass. This is a celebration that annually expects over 30,000 people in attendance. Too expensive? Really? Heaven forbid you somehow reward the legion of fans that pay through the nose for anything you can slap a Star Wars logo on.
So, unlike the upcoming Blu-ray release of the Alien Anthology from Fox, which will include the original theatrical version and the special edition cuts of all four Alien films, when Star Wars comes to Blu-ray you’ll get the altered, second-rate special editions and the lackluster prequels. Are you ready to shell out the big bucks for that impressive package?
Perhaps one day the most unlikely scenario will happen and Criterion will get the rights to the original trilogy and release the Criterion Collection editions of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi fully restored and sans Greedo shooting first or a digital Jabba chatting it up with Han. Help us Criterion… you’re our only hope.