Unfortunate news to some; a completely understandable and relieving announcement to others. With Star Wars: Episode VII now boasting a director in the form of J.J. Abrams, and Lucasfilm's new corporate leadership focusing on rejuvenating and expanding the Star Wars brand, the decision has been made to leave the past in the past, and look to the future.
With a bright horizon for the galaxy far, far, away, it's being reported today that the 3D theatrical re-releases of Episode II - Attack of the Clones and Episode III - Revenge of the Sith have been cancelled.
The report comes courtesy of Deadline, and is less than surprising, given the reaction and box office take for the 3D re-release of Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Despite failing to make the problems of the first prequel any easier to look past (read our review if in doubt), the 3D release only brought in $103 million. More than enough to cover the post-conversion with a healthy profit, but clearly the risk of saturating the market isn't worth it for the series' new trustees.
The promotional partners cited as the source of this update explain that the decision was made to shift focus and attention towards the next three Star Wars films (currently being written). While it's still too early to tell how successful Episode VII will turn out, this move should be seen as a good sign going forward.
There was money to be made by post-converting the previous films - and charging higher ticket prices for the 3D experience - but perhaps Disney learned lessons that the previous incarnation of Lucasfilm refused to. Namely: if you're trying to convince people that the best is yet to come, it's not wise to regularly remind them of what happened the last time that was promised.
Disney's desire to wipe the slate clean, and build numbered sequels and spin-off films has already been seen with Marvel, so it stands to reason they're not banking on much nostalgia for the Star Wars series post-1990s. That being said, there's still some hope (pun) for seeing the original films re-released in 3D at some point. Even modest projections would put a 3D release of Episode IV - A New Hope above The Phantom Menace's $23 million domestic opening, and love of the series' first trilogy has yet to wain.
Of course, that all depends on whether Lucasfilm maintains the reported intention of releasing 2-3 films a year. With spin-off adventures already being pitched, a live-action TV series back in the discussion, and Episode VII a certified production, the calendar would fill up mighty quick. There's no reason Disney couldn't find room in their Marvel/Lucasfilm schedule (December releases, for instance), but if push comes to shove, the old will likely make way for the new.
For now we'll stifle our faintest of desires to see Episode II and III on the big screen again (and wish that the 3D re-releases had begun with the original trilogy even more), but what's your take on the cancellations? A wise move, or were you looking forward to introducing friends or your own kids to the franchise in theaters?
Star Wars Episode 7 is due in theaters in 2015.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
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