1) NO WAY this was for the 3D release. Absolutely not. Did TPM get a 4K scan and a restoration for the 3D? NO!
The Blu-ray MASTER (not the BD compressed version itself) was the "for all time" version of the SE. Yeah, it's 1080p. So are the prequels, the native footage is all 1080p, possibly less because there was widescreen matting and I'm not sure they used anamorphic lenses. The DI was a 2K upres. So Lucas is perfectly happy with the "For all time" definitive version being basically an HD master. It's not ideal, but it works; the 35mm prints you see in theaters typically have less than 1080p resolution because of duplication degradation, and that's why if you've ever seen a Blu-ray projected in the theater, it looks absolutely fine.
The 2004 and 2011 changes were never on film. You'd have to completely rebuild them, and redo all the colour timing as well. That's totally unrealistic when Lucas seems perfectly happy with a pro master of the "for all time" version of his films being at 1080p/2K. It would be very, very, very expensive to do a full-out 4K re-build (assuming they still have the digital elements, which I predict they do, but then who knows).
Finally, the 3D version of ANH was intended for...2015? I think. This restoration looks like it was a completed project, sometime in or around 2012. But Lucas said that they had been converting the film to 3D since 2010 or so, when they were making the BD scans. They did test footage, but Lucas said sometime in 2010 or so that a percentage of the film had already been converted and that they were working on it ahead of time because unlike the prequels they didn't have the digital elements to do truer depth layers. Maybe they decided to start over, but even still, Lucas seemed to consider the 2011 master the ultimate master. So you can't be restoring the film after you are already in the conversion process.
2) Disney cares about the fans and Star Wars. They do. That's why they are doing the sequels right. They are making a point of hiring top talent that includes good writers (LAWRENCE KASDAN for god's sake--how old school SW can you get) and good directors who are themselves fans. They are onboard with Abrams' "practical effects" "doing it like the OT" approach. Everyone involved with the film--Hamill, Mayhew, even visitors like Kevin Smith--have gushed about how it's like making the OT all over again. Disney is smart, look at their treatment of Marvel.
Further, when Bob Igor was buying Lucasfilm he made it clear that the films were no longer George's and they needed to do with them what they felt best. Lucas obviously agreed, as he made the deal. That's why they are sort of making a point of saying "hey fans, I know the prequels and SE kind of split the fan base, we are not going to do that, we are going to win the critics back."
3) George Lucas doesn't care. He has no involvement. He walked away. He sold the films. They are no longer his. There is no "never release the OOT" contract, that is an unfounded conspiracy theory. He released them in 2006, technically, and soften by 2011, saying he would like to restore them but didn't want to spend the money. He COULD HAVE--but he didn't give a shit. I'm sure by then he knew he was going to retire and sell the films the next year--as if he made that decision lickety-split--so was just like..."meh...I don't really care...money and time...this SE is my last statement on SW."
4) Which then brings us to....what the heck is this thing then? The lightsabers are weird. Not the 1997--I THINK? Has anyone verified this beyond a shadow of a doubt? Because what happens due to exposure variants is the the core and the glow look different from transfer to transfer, even when from the same source. Read most of this thread but maybe I missed something.
Well, I have some thoughts.
Not an SE hybrid. Never. They would never blatantly disrespect George Lucas by having a corporation deliberately change the very vocally "my artistic statement" George Lucas' films without him, while still delivering the dreaded SE (of a sort). That simply isn't done any more. The last time it happened was the 1980s, and they held a Congressional Senate pannel over it. That really doesn't happen anymore, especially not with Disney. This is just unrealistic. And it's not the remnant of a 4K SE build because that's unnecessary, doesn't make sense, and defies the history of 21st century Lucasfilm masters, especially with the expense involved. Which also means it's probably not for the aborted 3D.
So what is this then?
I can tell you guys something. I know some people in Lucasfilm and some people who worked at The Ranch (or is it the Presidio now? whatever). And every piece of film ever shot for all of the films has been scanned and digitized now. A guy I know walked into one of their editing bays and started talking to this staff editor--he had seen every second of every bit of film for all the films, all the takes, everything, because they have been slowly digitizing this stuff over the last few years. That's why we have all these outtakes on the BDs and stuff.
So 3 things:
1) Lucasfilm has been systematically doing this for years and finally got around to doing a proper restoration of Star Wars, but wanted to hold it for later--if the 2010 start date is real. Can someone clarify this for me? Maybe Lucas felt that--since even by 2010 I'm sure he knew he'd be retiring in the next couple years--they could start getting around to finally doing a proper 4K restoration of the original negative (even if he still felt like not releasing the OOT--which I think he had genuinely softened on but wanted to just BS us with reason for the next 18 months until he retired with his billions of dollars and handed the issue to someone else.)
2) It's a 2012 project, and as soon as that deal happened, in the flurry of meetings that must have consumed the first 2 months, the issue of "how do we get the original versions out there?" came up. Disney would want to do it. It wins back fans, builds hype for Episode VII (the sequel to the OT) and makes them millions of dollars. And so before the year was over they got back in contact with the successor to their old go-to Lowry, and made it happen. The deal was announced in October, but it was obviously in the works a few months prior, so if in November RMW is scanning the negs, it could be complete by Christmas, if they allotted the right amount of staff--and this is a pretty darn big project. What's bigger than Star Wars? Virtually nothing. This was a #1 priority project.
That still does leave the question of the lightsabers. It's not the negative, which is the 1997 SE--I THINK? Hmm. It's not the 2011 BD (of course, it's not on film in the first place), and no way were they doing a 2011 BD 4K rebuild, which also takes down the 3D releases with both of these points. Very perplexing.
3) It's a demo reel. They are showing these images to show off how awesome their stuff looks. Did they just add a bit of glamour glow to the O-neg sabers, which do look crude? Maaaybe. Is this actually NOT the 1997 SE shot? I mean, we only really have that release on Laserdisc right? Was that particular shot for sure not a recomp in 1997, because they DID do lightsaber recomps/cleanup (Luke on the Falcon), and even if you were to do a modern restoration, would it really not look like that? It does look like a modern "feathering" effect, but the rest of the footage (and even that lightsaber footage, sans the sabers) does not AT ALL look like the SE, it's very OOT-ish, very "actual vintage print of the OOT", and I'm wondering if maybe they just took a bit of creative license for the "look how great our work is" reel featuring a release that hasn't even come out yet and therefore no final product to compare it to.