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Post #1401871

Author
oojason
Parent topic
Evidence of OOT at Lucasfilm?
Link to post in topic
https://originaltrilogy.com/post/id/1401871/action/topic#1401871
Date created
11-Jan-2021, 9:56 AM
Last modified
12-Jan-2021, 8:41 PM
Edited by
oojason
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None provided

A bit of a bump this one, a lengthy post at that too (sorry!), though hopefully one I think is worth it - or just as an update here…

Feel free to add any other articles or additional sources of information on the topic too 👍
 

Some other threads of note and relevance - or just may be of interest…

4K restoration on Star Wars - a 2014 thread

Some useful OT.com threads re the release of the theatrical OT films | How you can help - a 2020 thread

Insightful & informative sources of info: Saving Star Wars & The Secret History of Star Wars (all kudos to zombie84 & ‘none’).

 


 

In the summer of 2006, when Lucasfilm gave in to fan pressure and announced they would be releasing the unaltered theatrical version of the Original Trilogy on DVD (what would become known as the ‘2006 GOUT Bonus Disc Release’)

 

…Lucasfilm also announced a sting in the tail shortly afterwards:-

 
Not only of the the news that this 2006 DVD release would be in letterbox format - and not in anamorphic widescreen…

Or that the transfer to be used for the 2006 DVD release would be from what was used for the 1993 Definitive Edition Laserdiscs - a 13 year old project and, even back then (in 2006)… be of substandard quality - using compressed sound and adding DVNR to reduce the picture quality and detail further…

That the return “to the Lucasfilm Archives to search exhaustively for source material that could be presented on DVD.” as originally stated by Lucasfilm Vice-President Jim Ward… seemingly turned out to be not very exhaustive - or much of a search, at all.

This is the only time the unaltered theatrical versions of the Original Trilogy has been officially released on a digital format…
 

Lucasfilm now claimed that…

“The negatives of the movies were permanently altered for the creation of the Special Editions”

 
^ Quite the definitive statement, that - and one taken at it’s word by many at the time (much to our chagrin)… yet we all know this claim from Lucasfilm not to be the case.

Negatives can be reconfigured, copies made - and then altered (as they have been done for the 2019 SE release - based on a digitised copy of a 1997 SE). Other copies and prints of the theatrical version of the Original Trilogy also exist…
 

With Lucasfilm also claiming that…

“Existing prints of the first versions (the unaltered theatrical version) are in poor condition”

 
^ Yet we know with certainty that is not the case given Lucas’ showing of a 70mm print of Star Wars in 2019 and other various screenings - both private and public - over the years. Not to mention Lucas’ own theatrical Technicolor prints of the trilogy, other IB Technicolor prints known to exist and some have been shown, the interpositives and fine-grain prints, let alone numerous other prints in existence - and even theatrical prints out there which form the basis for fan preservations…

Even in 2006, Robert Harris - the man who had hand-restored ‘Vertigo’, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, and ‘The Godfather’ - is on record saying he knows there are pristine 35mm elements available for use, and offered his services to restore the film - Lucasfilm did not respond to his offer.

 

 

Whilst Lucasfilm have remained silent since its 2006 PR release, George Lucas himself did briefly talk about the issue of restoring the unaltered theatrical version of the films - when announcing the ‘2011 Special Edition’ version of the Original Trilogy for blu ray - back in 2010…

 
Again, like the Lucasfilm PR release in 2006… George’s words in the above article are somewhat disingenuous - in that there is no need to once more…

“go through and do a whole restoration on it, and you have to do that digitally”

…when if fact you only need to restore & digitise the original theatrical scenes not used for the 1997 Special Edition, and then re-edit those scenes back into the film - not the whole process as stated by George - afterall, the rest of the digitised restoration has already been completed.
 

The same applies to George’s claim that…

“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.”

…again, you only need to restore & digitise the original theatrical scenes not used for the 1997 Special Edition, and then re-edit those scenes back into the film - not the whole process as stated by George - afterall, the rest of the digitised restoration has already been completed.

 

 

SaveStarWars•com’s article on George Lucas’ 2011 blu ray announcement and restoration claims - ‘The Star Wars Blu-Ray Blues’ - goes into further detail on this:-

 

 

Even back in 2004, prior to the DVD release of the Original Trilogy, here is George Lucas on the supposed cost of restoring the Original Trilogy films in the Lucas talks as ‘Star Wars’ trilogy returns:-

 

“I’m not going to spend the, we’re talking millions of dollars here, the money and the time to refurbish that, because to me, it doesn’t really exist anymore.”

 
That’s quite another disingenuous statement from George. Afterall, the bill for the entire 1997 Special Edition project was paid for by Fox, and as we can see from the quote below… “the theatrical release would pay for the work we had done”.

From the How the Grinch Stole Star Wars article on the Save Star Wars website:-

It was also a free lesson, a practice run, invaluable research and development - “an experiment in learning new technology” for the coming CGI-laden Prequel Trilogy.

To roll back the 35 new ‘enhanced with CGI’ shots made for the 1997 Special Edition theatrical releases… to the original theatrical editions, to remove (or just not insert) the 30 brand new shots, and the other changes / edits made for the 1997 SE certainly would NOT have cost millions of dollars.

 
 

Going back to the George Lucas quote taken above…

“I’m not going to spend the, we’re talking millions of dollars here, the money and the time to refurbish that, because to me, it doesn’t really exist anymore.”

If George Lucas does not wish to ‘spend the money and time to refurbish’ and release the award winning, landscape changing, and much loved version of the Original Trilogy films which stood for near-on 20 years… an important part of American film history and pop-culture… then why not strike a deal with Criterion, or another respected preservation and restoration company, and give the best prints & elements required to furnish such a release?

A release for the version of the Original Trilogy that Lucasfilm has admitted to there an ‘overwhelming demand’ for, that Lucasfilm employees are asked repeatedly about today, that people who worked on the three original classic films wish to have, along with others who have worked on latter Star Wars projects over the years also want… and not forgetting the countless fans who would still love to have the option to buy and experience once again - with their children, childrens’ children, friends and family - the world over…

 

 

There is also the possibility of using any of the numerous recently recalled film prints of the theatrical version of the Original Trilogy films from circulation… to aid in any issues with restoring or preserving elements for such a release.

Not to mention any superior 2nd generation copies struck from the original negative, 3rd generations copies, 4th generation copies, and so on… that were or are already in Lucasfilm’s possession - or available to them.

^ The above image, and more information, can be found in the link below…

The Frequently Asked Questions section of the Save Star Wars website.
 

Working links contained in the above image - with a mass of informative & insightful information - can be found here:-

From Interpositives to Separation Masters: How Film Preservation Works - at the Save Star Wars website.

Saving Star Wars: The Special Edition Restoration Process and its Changing Physicality - at the SHoSW website (re-hosted by ‘none’).

 

We also know George Lucas throws nothing away when it comes to his films…

^ from the ‘What We Want And How To Make It’ article by doubleofive on the Star Wars Visual Comparison blog.

 

 

These two articles from ARS Technica on the issues of restoring, preserving & releasing the classic OT films, also provides insight into what is actually possible in making an official release of the unaltered theatrical version of the Original Trilogy:-

‘Untouched is impossible: the story of Star Wars in film’ - 2010 article

‘Could Disney finally give us the remastered, unedited Star Wars we want?’ - 2017 article

 

 

Plus, we do know there are ‘perfect’ prints struck from the original negative of the Original Trilogy…

Rick McCallum - Producer of the Star Wars Special Edition - an interview with Rick McCallum, back in 1997:-

^ “Here is what we were talking about this earlier. One of the most frustrating things is, if you could see the print that stuck of the original negative that we have done - it’s perfect.”

 

 

On a side-note… the 2019 Special Edition ‘Maclunkey’ release (in 4K, blu ray and DVD) is based on a 1997 SE film print (or a digitised copy of), with the further changes made in the 2004 SE and and 2011 SE versions having been re-done for this release.

That such a pristine print exists, and given the history & importance of the 1997 Special Edition releases themselves; each film being released in the theatres, and later releases on Laserdisc, VHS and erm… VCD (and yet never on DVD). Along with a massive PR and marketing campaign at the time… each film did very well at the cinema - Star Wars : Empire Strikes Back : Return Of The Jedi; a total of around US $300m - not to mention income from toys & merchandising, licensing & promotional deals, and also later home video format releases etc.

For many people this was the first time they saw the Original Trilogy on the big screen… so why not release the 1997 Special Edition version on 4K, blu ray or DVD too - or even on Disney+? To give interested fans an option to buy and experience this particular version of the OT again - on a modern digital home format…

The negligible costs and immediate availability of such a release - originally as a ‘20th anniversary celebration’ of the Original Trilogy before becoming the de-facto version of the OT (before the 2004 SE, 2011 SE and 2019 SE releases - all featuring further changes made to the original three films) - surely makes sense in preserving this landmark aspect in the history of the Star Wars films, too?

 

The following two 2020 articles by OriginalTrilogy•com member doubleofive (who is also curator of the superb & insightfulStar Wars Visual Comparisonstwitter page and website), chronicles and highlights how many fans feel about not having the option to buy and experience an official release of the unaltered theatrical version of the Original Trilogy - and what can be done to remedy this…

Disney+ Should Offer the Star Wars Original Cuts — All of Them - at the Wired website.

What We Want And How To Make It - at the Star Wars Visual Comparisons website.

 

 

In 2017 it was confirmed that the footage from the unaltered theatrical version of the Original Trilogy, that was replaced for the 1997 Special Editions (and later SE releases) still exists - by 20th Century Fox’s Senior Vice President of ‘Library and Technical Services’ at the time, Shawn Belston:-

 

 

Also in 2017, Lucasfilm employee and Lucasfilm Story Group member Pablo Hildago tweeted

 

“Good morning! What’s kept the original theatrical editions off of home video is the same thing that’s always been doing that. It’s not a studio thing.”

 
followed by:-

“There’s one pretty noteworthy person who doesn’t want them released. Shouldn’t be too hard to research who that is.”

 
^ So it is not that such a release of the unaltered theatrical cuts cannot be physically be done - or that the elements or negatives don’t exist anymore - or that the negatives cannot be reconfigured. Nor is it claims that it would cost ‘millions of dollars’ to do, or that the classic cuts of the OT do not represent ‘George’s vision’ - when there have five separate official releases of ‘George’s visions’ to date - including the 1997 Special Edition (aka the supposed ‘The Final Cut’). Nor is it the debunked claim by Lucasfilm that “existing prints of the first versions (the unaltered theatrical version) are in poor condition”…

… it appears it is simply that one man doesn’t want the unaltered theatrical version of the Original Trilogy to be released.