UPDATE: The Digital Bits is reporting there is little chance of this happening, based on comments made by Disney’s Theo Gluck and Fox’s Shawn Belston at a presentation. The original cut negatives exist within the special editions, and no reconstruction work has been done to date. Original article follows.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the special editions of the original Star Wars trilogy. The alternate cuts provided viewers with an opportunity to see the groundbreaking saga on the big screen once more, but many longtime fans were left perturbed by the changes George Lucas made to the Oscar-winning films. Several felt the theatrical versions were superior, bemoaning Greedo shooting first, CGI “enhancements” at Mos Eisley, and a brand new musical number at Jabba’s palace. Of course, Lucas didn’t see things that way, and continued to endlessly tinker with the three movies for each subsequent home media release, further wiping the unaltered versions from memory.
That ultimately is what angers fans the most. The fact the special editions exist isn’t an issue by itself (several movies have different cuts), but a lot of moviegoers hate that it’s impossible to legally find high-quality copies of the films that originally enthralled audiences in 1977, 1980, and 1983. Over the last handful of years, there have been various rumors that the theatrical versions of the trilogy would be making their way to Blu-ray, but they’ve all been debunked. But now, viewers eager to see a beak-less Sarlacc and Sebastian Shaw’s Anakin Skywalker Force ghost on their TV have a new hope once again.
Making Star Wars (a very reputable source for Star Wars scoops) has heard from “several sources” the theatrical cuts of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi will be re-released in multiple formats at some point this year. Details are brief at this juncture, but Making Star Wars “firmly believes” this will happen soon. They caution it’s still a rumor, though all signs are pointing in the right direction currently.
As has been argued many times before, this development makes a great deal of sense for several reasons. For starters, it’s a potential goldmine for Lucasfilm, since a plethora of fans would happily purchase this box set (even after buying the one from 2011) regardless of the cost. It’d be a hot seller during the holiday shopping season. The studio would also be combatting Internet piracy, as recently the “Despecialized” edition of the trilogy (a fan-made project) has gone viral and is the preferred way of viewing the films for some. Plus, with 2017 being the 40th anniversary of the entire franchise, what better way to commemorate that milestone than to bring back the movie that started it all, 1970s-era special effects and all?
With this “unaltered trilogy” rumor seemingly more reliable than the earlier ones, the big question for fans will be when (or if) Lucasfilm will make an official announcement on the matter. The perfect window would obviously be Star Wars Celebration, which takes place in April. It was reported yesterday the opening panel of the convention serves as a retrospective of the past four decades, and revealing a brand new classic trilogy Blu-ray set would be a great way to bring the house down. This year’s Celebration is expected to be quite monumental with the first Last Jedi trailer and possible updates on various animated series, but the original trilogy coming home for the first time in years could be the biggest news of all.
Source: Making Star Wars
Update Source: The Digital Bits