Over the weekend, George Lucas announced at the Star Wars Celebration V convention in Orlando that the entire series of ‘Star Wars’ films will be released on Blu-ray late next year. Fans from across the galaxy erupted in joyous frenzy… until the realization set in that he’s still only releasing the craptastic “Special Edition” versions of the original trilogy with Greedo shooting at Han Solo first and the stupid CGI Jabba making googly eyes at the camera. To make up for this, supplements on the ‘Return of the Jedi’ disc will include a never-before-seen deleted scene… that looks totally fake. This guy really just hates his fans, doesn’t he?
Here’s some crummy cellphone video footage from the convention of Lucas making the announcement and Mark Hamill pretending that he actually shot the deleted scene. (Warning: the audio in this clip is terrible. You’ll want to ride the volume control or the screaming fans will blow your eardrums out.)
And here’s a better look at that so-called deleted scene, which allegedly is supposed to take place near the beginning of ‘Return of the Jedi’ and shows Luke building his green lightsaber.
Notice how all of the footage of Vader appears to be recycled from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, the audio was all sampled from dialogue spoken elsewhere in the trilogy, and Luke Skywalker’s mostly-obscured face looks nothing like Mark Hamill.
[Lucasfilm keeps yanking these video clips off YouTube. Sorry.]
Also, in an interview at last year’s Comic-Con, Hamill explicitly said that he never shot such a scene.
Prior to the official announcement, Lucas gave an interview to the ‘New York Times’ pre-announcing the Blu-ray announcement, in which he confirmed the following:
Mr. Lucas said the versions of the first three “Star Wars” films – “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” – included in the Blu-ray boxed set will be the special-edition releases that were shown theatrically in 1997 and digitally restored for a 2004 standard-definition DVD boxed set.
Perhaps bracing for the reactions of fans who decried some of the changes made to the special-edition films – like, say, an exchange of gunfire between Han Solo and a certain green-skinned bounty hunter – Mr. Lucas said that to release the original versions of these films on Blu-ray was “kind of an oxymoron because the quality of the original is not very good.”
“You have to go through and do a whole restoration on it, and you have to do that digitally,” he added. “It’s a very, very expensive process to do it. So when we did the transfer to digital, we only transferred really the upgraded version.”
So now his excuse for not restoring the original versions of the trilogy is that doing so would be too expensive. This from the guy who keeps $1 billion in walking-around cash in his wallet at any given moment.
I call bullshit on this. The diamond-encrusted toilet in Lucas’ solid gold bathroom cost more than it would take to properly restore the original ‘Star Wars’ movies. And he would absolutely make that money back in sales. Plain and simple, he doesn’t want to restore those versions because he hates them, and he holds any fans who prefer them in contempt.
In related news, producer Gary Kurtz recently gave an interview to the ‘L.A. Times’ where he explains why he left the ‘Star Wars’ franchise after ‘Empire Strikes Back’. As he tells it, he grew increasingly disillusioned with the series as he witnessed George Lucas shift priorities from good storytelling to marketing and toy sales. While I don’t personally think that his description of plans for a dark and downbeat ‘Return of the Jedi’ in which Han Solo dies and the Rebels lose to the Empire sounds like a great idea either, the interview is a good read and helps to shed some light on how and why the series eventually came to its current state.