Die-hard Star Wars
fans soon can see the original theatrical versions of the first three Star Wars
films on DVD.
Even though George Lucas adamantly declared 2004's digitally restored Star Wars Trilogy
DVDs the definitive versions of his movies, fans have held out hope for DVDs of the originals.
Their wishes will be granted Sept. 12 when Fox releases new two-disc DVDs ($30 each) of Star Wars
(since retitled as Episode IV
: A New Hope
), The Empire Strikes Back
and Return of the Jedi
that include the films as they first appeared in theaters, along with the new, restored versions (now available in the four-disc $70 Star Wars Trilogy
The individual DVDs will be taken off the market on Dec. 31, a strategy that Disney uses on many of its classic releases.
Lucas re-released his original three Star Wars
films in theaters in 1997 with inserted scenes and improved special effects. Those "special editions" were further enhanced for the four-disc DVD set. With the original versions coming to DVD, here's what you'll see again:
• In Star Wars
, Han Solo shoots a bounty hunter named Greedo. Lucas changed the scene later so it seemed that Greedo draws first, and changed it again for the DVD so that they appear to shoot simultaneously.
• In Empire Strikes Back
, the ice creature that captures Luke Skywalker gets less screen time.
• In Jedi
, Sebastian Shaw returns as Anakin in the movie's final scene. Lucas substituted Hayden Christiansen, who plays Anakin in the more recent films, for the 2004 DVD.
Back in 2004, Lucas told the New York Post
, "The special edition is the one I wanted out there."
This new set of DVDs does not constitute "George changing his mind," says Lucasfilm's Jim Ward. "What we've always said is George viewed the revised versions of the films as the definitive versions."
Fan attachment to the originals is strong. The movies topped entertainment website IGN.com's recent chart of Top 25 Most Wanted DVDs.
"People want the option of having the movies that they remember and people are opposed to George Lucas' revisionist tendencies," says the site's Chris Carle.
The original films' video quality will not match up to that of the restored versions. "It is state of the art, as of 1993, and that's not as good as state of the art 2006," Ward says.