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Disney Can Now Release The Unaltered Star Wars (But They Probably Won’t)

Disney now has the ability to release the unaltered versions of the original Star Wars trilogy, but it probably won't happen. Undoubtedly, the biggest entertainment story in the early part of 2019 was the completion of Disney's acquisition of Fox, which closed earlier this week. Ever since talk of a Disney/Fox deal started, fans have spent plenty of time theorizing what it could mean for various franchises (including X-Men), and the merger actually makes a bit of an impact on everyone's favorite galaxy far, far away.

When the Mouse House bought Lucasfilm back in 2012, they didn't get all of Star Wars. Under the terms of the initial agreement, the rights to The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and the prequel trilogy would revert to Disney in 2020. A New Hope, on the other hand, was to stay at Fox in perpetuity. Because George Lucas and Fox were partners on the original film (the other five were Lucas' independent productions), the studio staked a claim to it forever. But now, of course, the whole franchise is under one roof, and that may have some wondering if there's finally going to be a Blu-ray release for the theatrical cuts of the classic trilogy.

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This is a topic that's been heavily rumored for years, with even filmmaker John Landis claiming it was happening back in 2015. But for all the speculation, nothing's ever come to fruition. That's unlikely to change now, even with the Disney/Fox merger finally going through.

Rey and the Original Star Wars Trilogy

Frankly, there was nothing stopping Lucasfilm from doing a theatrical cut Blu-ray set before, they just opted not to go in that direction. In the years following Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm, there have been Star Wars Blu-ray re-releases (most notably the 2015 Steelbooks of the first six movies), and each one included the versions that first appeared on the 2011 saga collection. Kathleen Kennedy has made a point to not touch Lucas' films, and the latest re-edits are what's considered official franchise canon. This may anger those who prefer Han shooting first and Sebastian Shaw's Anakin Skywalker, but Kennedy's made it pretty clear a restoration of the unaltered cuts is not a priority for her. At least the Despecialized Editions exist for those so inclined.

There remains an outside chance someone changes their mind and decides to move forward with a studio-sanctioned, HD re-release of the unaltered original trilogy (maybe with the Skywalker Saga ultimate box set after Episode IX comes out?). This theoretical collection would certainly make a lot of money, and there's nothing companies love more than padding the bottom line. But a case can be made that if this was ever going to happen, it probably would have transpired by now. After all, Star Wars' 40th anniversary came and went without such a development. The ball's always been in Lucasfilm's court and if nothing enticed them to do it before the Disney/Fox deal, the odds of it taking place in a post-merger world are low.

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