This coming Friday, April 10, the entire Star Wars saga, which fans have already purchased at least three times on VHS, LaserDisc, DVD, and Blu-ray—even RCA Videodisc—can be purchased once again in a streaming digital HD format.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away—the mid-’90s in Nicasio, California, specifically—George Lucas decided to re-release a special edition of Star Wars in honor of its anniversary. His team at Skywalker Ranch digitally remastered the original negatives of Star Wars and its sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi. In addition to the restoration, Lucas added digital effects, because that’s the kind of thing he likes to do. Most folks thought the new effects were kind of cool, but were glad that the original theatrical editions were still around…
Or so they thought.
It’s well documented that George Lucas, who usually never misses an opportunity to make money, has stated that the original theatrical versions of the original Star Wars Trilogy will never be released on home video again. (Non-anamorphic DVDs of the theatrical versions were released as bonus features on a 2008 DVD release.) This incited animosity amongst fans, who declared in unison, “Han shot first.”
It was always unsure what would happen when Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012 and how future releases of the original six films would play out. As it stands, Fox owns the rights to the original six Star Wars films, and the rights to Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope are its forever. Disney, Lucasfilm, and Fox appear to be working together for the digital release, in the interest of getting fans to shell out money for movies that they’ve already bought four or five times over. As Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy says in the press release from Starwars.com:
We’re thrilled that fans will be able to enjoy the Star Wars saga on their digital devices wherever they go. These films broke new ground in technology, design, sound, and visual effects, and we’ve created some very special bonus material which delves into the saga’s rich history, including new and never-before-released conversations between legendary Star Wars artists — the masters who helped George bring his iconic universe to life.
Not to mention that the release is a perfect marketing tool for the highly anticipated release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December. Bothan spies report that the new release will also feature deleted scenes, trailers and documentaries, but there’s no indication that they’re any different from the extras on the Blu-Rays.
There’s also still no word of a potential release of the unaltered theatrical versions of the original three films, but if there is, it will be a day long remembered.