With Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens winding down its record shattering box office run, Lucasfilm has turned their attention to the upcoming home media release of the film. The studio recently announced that Star Wars 7 would be available on digital April 1, 2016, followed by the Blu-ray hitting store shelves a few days later on April 5. In addition to retailer exclusives (collectible packaging, etc.), a key selling point is the long list of special features that will be available on the disc.
Fans are looking forward to seeing the collection of deleted scenes and featurettes covering everything from the visual effects to the musical score; but arguably the most sought after extra will be the feature-length documentary, Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey, providing viewers with a comprehensive look at the making of the highly-anticipated film. While everyone who buys a copy of the Force Awakens Blu-ray will be able to see it in the comfort of their own home, attendees at the South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) will have an exclusive opportunity to watch it on the big screen.
In a press release, SXSW announced that Secrets of The Force Awakens will premiere in the Paramount Theatre located in downtown Austin, TX on Monday, March 14 at 12 p.m. Following the screening, there will be a Q&A session that includes Oscar nominated visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett, Oscar nominated supervising sound editor Matthew Wood, and co-producer Michelle Rejwan. It's noted that this is the only time the documentary will be featured in a theatrical setting with the special guests, so fans are encouraged to come out if they can.
Secrets of The Force Awakens promises to be the most in-depth look at the saga's seventh episode yet, as it features behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew. It's only diving into a single film of the franchise, but a good comparison might be the Empire of Dreams documentary that was included as a bonus feature on the 2004 original trilogy DVD release, which did a great job of peeling back the curtain and examining all aspects of the classic movies. The reported running time for Secrets of The Force Awakens is 69 minutes, 14 seconds, which should be more than enough to provide viewers with a detailed recap of the process of getting Episode VII to theaters.
Overall, it sounds like a great time for hardcore Star Wars followers and cinephiles, given that The Force Awakens was arguably the biggest movie release in recent memory. Lucasfilm has done a nice job of serving the fan community since the Disney acquisition, giving them several opportunities to embrace their love for the galaxy far, far away in anticipation for the new live-action films. One can almost view this as official closure on The Force Awakens as the studio and moviegoers look ahead to future projects such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: Episode VIII - a final tip of the hat to the film that started the franchise revival and ushered in a new era filled to the brim with possibilities.
Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens is out on Blu-ray April 5th, 2016; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16th, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode 8 on December 15th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode 9 is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.