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1997 SE : The changes to the OT films & general 1997 SE discussion thread


1997 Special Editions

The changes to the Original Trilogy films & general 1997 Special Edition release discussion…




To any Rebels, Imperials, Guild Members and the dedicated scum and villainy from the OT•com reading this…

This is just one of a seven-part set of linked threads (see the end of this post for the links) to talk about each of the four main ‘Special Edition’ releases and the respective changes made to them over time - including a post for the original unaltered theatrical version, and also an unlikely scenario where “Somehow Lucas has returned!” with more changes made in yet another improbable future release.

The reason for these threads is try and help inform, educate and highlight any new fans who are unaware or are uninitiated with some the history of these continuing changes made to the three iconic Original Trilogy films (or be a reminder for me some of more forgetful members here). As well as highlighting a lack of release for the Original Trilogy films in their classic pre-1997 Special Edition version, and also about some of the changes & tweaks made to the groundbreaking and award-winning OT films from 1977 to 1996 too…

To serve as a centralised discussion and information thread for each of the main Original Trilogy releases… and also an archive of some of the quality threads and posts on the subject which has taken place on here down the years - as well as any useful, insightful or informative articles elsewhere.

Or a chance to just chat some more about the specific & differing releases of the Original Trilogy.

To date, ‘The Final Cut’ as George Lucas referred to the 1997 Special Editions… have never been released on a digital format (only on VHS, laserdisc and VCD). Yet, as Star Wars producer Rick McCallum is on record as stating…

“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.”

Much credit to oojason for sending me his plans & ideas for the incomplete version of these threads - ‘I will finish what you started!’

Below is some hopefully useful & introductory information on the 1997 Special Edition release of the Original Trilogy films (or simply a reminder for us oldies)…



The Announcement (+ Promo material) for the 1997 Special Edition:-


‘Star Wars Trilogy (1997) Special Edition Trailer’ - (2 mins)

‘Star Wars 1997 SE - All Three Trailers’ - (7 mins)


‘Pepsi Star Wars commercial (1997)’ (for the 1997 SE) - (30 seconds)


‘Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition - Behind the Scenes (1997)’ - (30 mins)


‘Star Wars: Anatomy Of A Dewback Documentary (1997)’ - (27 mins)



The 1997 Special Edition Featurettes…


‘Star Wars - 1997 Special Edition Featurette’ - (10 mins)


‘The Empire Strikes Back - 1997 Special Edition Featurette’ - (5 mins)


‘Return of the Jedi 1997 Special Edition Featurette’ - (5 mins)



Sources Of Information:-

‘What has changed?’ articles from StarWars•com on 15th January 1997. (now obsolete - though accessible through

Star Wars :

Empire Strikes Back :

Return Of The Jedi :


‘How the Grinch Stole Star Wars’:-

(^ an article on the history of the Original Trilogy - and coming about of the Special Editions)


George Lucas in his own words stating that the changes made in the 1997 Special Edition release were as a test for the-then coming Prequel Trilogy:-


“So yes, the Special Editions were a means of researching and testing what I was going to try to do on this film. (The Phantom Menace)”


Since the 1997 Special Editions through to the 2019 Maclunkey releases (all credit to doubleofive)

Never forget that the Death Star has been in clear site of Yavin IV from the beginning of the battle since 1997 and this is how the Special Edition should have ended.':- (and scroll down to the ‘The Game Breaker’ section)



'From the Star Wars Home Video Library #11: The Special Edition Trilogy (1997)':- - 30 minute video, from the Nathan P Butler YouTube channel.


‘From the Star Wars Home Video Library #13: The VCD Trilogy (2000)’:- - 9 minute video, at the Nathan P Butler YouTube channel.



• The Opening Post of the ‘Complete Comparison of Special Edition Visual Changes’ OT•com thread has an index for multiple source of information on many of the changes made to the Original Trilogy films over the years.



All Changes Made to Star Wars Original Trilogy’ - at the superb Marcelo Zuniga YouTube Channel

• ‘All Changes Made to Star Wars: A New Hope (Comparison) PART I’ -
• ‘All Changes Made to Star Wars: A New Hope (Comparison) PART II’ -
• ‘All Changes Made to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Comparison)’ -
• ‘All Changes Made to Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (Comparison)’ -

^ The informative videos above were made in 2015 - and cover the changes from the OOT through to the 2011 SE release on blu ray.



For further information on the home releases of the 1997 Special Editions:-

Star Wars Visual Comparisons - Website : Twitter - by doubleofive
Star Wars On Video - Video Collector’s website
Star Wars Home Video Reference website - projectcclarke’s website
Star Wars on DVD (up to 2005) - Prillaman’s website portal
Star Wars Release Info: 1982-2004 - DavisDVD•com website (via Archive•org)
Star Wars - The Changes: 1997-2011 - DVDActive•com website (via Archive•org)
‘Star Wars home video releases’ - at Wookieepedia
‘The Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition’ - at Wookieepedia


Although there was no official digital home release of the 1997 Special Editions, there were some bootlegs available on DVD:-

Star Wars on DVD : Reviews : Two Trilogy Bootlegs - the ‘LOOK’ bootlegs - at the Prillaman website
Star Wars on DVD : Reviews : ‘Five Star’ SE Trilogy Bootlegs - at the Prillaman website.
Star Wars - Factory Pressed Bootlegs DVD section - of the StarWarsOnVideo website (by Video Collector)
Star Wars Trilogy 1997 Special Edition DVDs? - an OT•com thread


The 1997 Star Wars Special Edition Theatrical Poster:-



Relevant online articles on the 1997 Special Editions:-

‘Saving the Star Wars Saga’ - at the American Cinematographer
‘Rick McCallum - Producer of the Star Wars Special Edition’ - an interview, at the Maikeldas website
The Special Edition Restoration Process and its Changing Physicality - at The Secret History Of Star Wars
‘It’s the Economy, Stupid;George Lucas Sees Technology as a Wondrous Tool and a Cost-Cutter’ - at New York Times
‘See it Again…for the First Time: A Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition Retrospective’ - at the StarAarsAtTheMovies website
‘Why Is the Force Still with Us?’ - The New Yorker
‘The Force Never Left Him’ - The LA Times
‘Excessive Use of the Force’ - Chicago Reader
‘20 Years Ago, ‘Star Wars: Special Edition’ Made ‘Star Wars’ Special Again’ - Forbes
‘1997 Versions of the Star Wars Original Trilogy Return To Selected Theaters This August’ - StarWarsNewsNet (2016 article)
‘Han Shot First’ - at Wikipedia

^ If anyone has any suggestions for any articles on the 1997 SE to be included here please post them below - thank you.


Relevant OriginalTrilogy•com threads on the 1997 Special Editions:-

OFFICIAL: Library of Congress had original prints replaced with 1997 SE - by zombie84
Why doesn’t Lucus just release both versions? - by Indy
1997 Special Edition Musings - by captainsolo
The One Good Thing about the 1997 S.E.'s - by Trooperman
I tend to watch the 97 SE sometimes - by psychic squidward
What SE changes (if any) did people like? - by andy_k_250
Okay, what did we LIKE about the 1997 Special Editions? - by R2-G2
Worst changes to OT in '97 and '04 - by jawaewokgungan
What was your first reaction to Greedo shooting first? - by OneCentSky
An exact quote from Lucas on Greedo shooting first - by CO
Greedo: “Han shot first.” - by CHEWBAKAspelledwrong
Lucas wearing “Han shot first” shirt during Indy IV production - by Master Sifo-Dyas
Who Designed The CGI Jabba In The 1997 Special Edition? - by psychic squidward
Empire '97 SE - by theredbaron
The Emperor & line change in ESB SE 1997 - by auraloffalwaffle
“Alert my Star Destroyer to prepare for my arrival.” What was the point? - by Stampede
“Bring my shuttle.” - by gulducati
Max Rebo band SE - by Quackula
Victory Celebration - by SS4DarthPayne
1997 Special Edition Restoration thoughts… - by jhfagan
97SE… how were the negatives assembled? - by Danfun128
Are the restored elements for the 1997 special edition still intact ? - by skyjedi2005
Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition Audio Visual Press Kit - by anthony72
Theory on the 1997 “restoration” - by danny_boy
OT 1997 Special Edition Color Timing Accuracy - by pj
Fascinating article about Star Wars and George Lucas from 1997 - by JennyS1138
George Lucas’ explanation why the OT is obsolete to him - by Master Sifo-Dyas
George Lucas no longer cares - by Robajob
If George had only changed Special effects for the SE and DVD, would people have complained as much? - by JennyS1138
The 1997 SE’s - My take - by dani1138
Is the 1997 Special Edition important? - by calculon559
Star Wars Trilogy 1997 Special Edition DVDs? - TheDoctor1987
Highest quality version of 1997 Special Editions? Is there a DVD release? - by SwordlessLink
Looking for 1997 Star Wars Special Edition DVD9, 5 Star Edition (Please Help) - by Crygor64
1997 Special Edition, and how can i find it - by DRBE
Alternate 1997 Special Editions (What if…?) - by ncskye
Say the SE release in theaters bombed in 1997? - by CO
10 years of the Special Editions - by Scout trooper
Star Wars Insider celebrates the 40th anniversary with… - by digitalfreaknyc
DIF - Difference tool to spot visual changes - Current 2004 vs 2019 - by none

^ If anyone has any suggestions for any other OT•com threads to be included here please post them below - thank you.

There are also several preservation project and information / discussion threads re the 1997 Special Edition in…

An Index Of Projects & Help Thread for Star Wars Preservations - in the Star Wars Preservation forum.


A YouTube video of the original ‘Han Shot First’ scene - and all 4 changes made to it since:-


Han Shot First - All Changes Comparison (1977, 1997, 2004, 2011, 2019)’- - at the OriginalTrilogyDaily YouTube channel (2 mins long)



General online articles on the Special Edition changes & releases:-

‘Disney+ Should Offer the Star Wars Original Cuts — All of Them’ - at Wired
‘What We Want And How To Make It’ - at SWVC, by doubleofive
‘Special Edition Changes’ at Saving Star Wars, by Zombie84
‘The Star Wars Special Editions’ - at The Star Wars Trilogy
‘15 Changes to the Original ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy That Still Make Us Crazy’ - at Yahoo Entertainment
‘Star Wars Original Trilogy Changes: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’ - at ScreenRant
‘Who Shot First? The Complete List Of Star Wars Changes’ (actually, it is more of an overview) - at Empire Online
‘Greedo Shoots First’ and ‘Greedo Shoots First, Take 4: Maclunkey’ - at SWVC, by doubleofive
‘Star Wars: 10 Worst Crimes Against the Original Trilogy’ - at Den Of Geek
‘The 12 Worst Changes George Lucas Made To Star Wars’ - at Goliath
‘How Star Wars’ Special Edition Ruined Mos Eisley’s Scum & Villainy’ - at ScreenRant
‘Star Wars: Why Do People Hate Vader’s Added Line in ROTJ So Much?’ - at CheatSheet
‘The Version of Star Wars on Disney+ Changes the Canon Once Again’ - at Wired
‘J.J. Abrams Wants The Original Star Wars Trilogy Theatrical Cuts To Be Released Again’ - at ScreenRant
‘The Star Wars Blu-Ray Blues’ - at Saving Star Wars (debunking Lucas’ 2010 claim of the ‘difficulties’ in restoring the OOT)
‘Save Star Wars’ - doubleofive’s Blog article (re Lucas’ disingenuous 2010 comments on the ‘difficulties’ of restoring the OOT)
‘Untouched is impossible: the story of Star Wars in film’ - 2010 article at ARS Technica
‘Could Disney finally give us the remastered, unedited Star Wars we want?’ - 2017 article at ARS Technica


General OriginalTrilogy•com threads covering the Special Edition changes & releases:-

An Index & Help Thread for Original Trilogy Discussion
An Index & Help Thread for Theatrical Cuts vs. Subsequent Releases
Complete Comparison of Special Edition Visual Changes
An Timeline | a history of the site | the why & how it came to be…
George Lucas: Unreliable Narrator & Time Travelling Revisionist
A celebration of the Original Trilogy | Some informative threads | How you can help…
Articles & info that highlight / call for a classic version release of the Original Trilogy
4K restoration on Star Wars

Modern SE Revisionism
Reasoning Behind Changes from Release to Release
It seems like nobody involved in the making of the OT has spoken up about GL’s oppression of the OOT
You’d think they’d clean this up - the unfixed issues of the 2004 OT SE DVD release…
What HASN’T changed on the 2011 OT SE Blu-ray release – the uncorrected mistakes…
Uncorrected mistakes or unfixed issues of the 2019 (Maclunkey) Original Trilogy release?
Credits & Leaders Thread




‘The changes to the Original Trilogy films & general Special Edition discussion’ threads:-

• The OOT : link (1977-96)
• 1997 SE : link
• 2004 SE : link
• 2006 GOUT : link
• 2011 SE : link
• 2019 SE : link
• 2026 SE : link (“Somehow… Lucas has returned!”) - a possible future SE release (though unlikely)


If you know of any articles or OT•com threads that are relevant, or would improve this thread, please post them below - thank you.

The FE Renegades thread; from the people who post ‘go kill yourself’, ‘fuck you’, ‘let’s throw abuse’, and more at OT staff & members. Four years on and still throwing accusations, slurs and abuse at the OT & anyone outside their Salacious Crumb filled clique. + FE Discord “to vent” more at the OT. Wook’s take.


George Lucas / Lucasfilm didn’t just not release ‘The Final Cut(the 1997 Special Editions) on DVD, but they have not released this version of the Original Trilogy on a more modern digital format either. Despite having quality prints of the 1997 cuts available and ready for release.

His previous disingenuous excuses given as to why he won’t release the OOT - money, time and effort in restoring the OOT certainly doesn’t apply to this 1997 SE version.

Given the huge amount of publicity at the time for these 1997 Special Editions and that they were also released in cinemas worldwide they are, themselves, an important piece of film history, as well as a large part of Star Wars history (for better or worse). And fans should have the option to buy & experience these films once again… on a high quality modern home format.

(As said on this site before, it would also be beneficial for those people involved in preservations of the Original Trilogy too.)

Worldwide cinema takings from the three 1997 Special Edition releases:

SW 1997 SE : - $256,905,873
ESB 1997 SE : - $124,830,460
ROTJ 1997 SE : - $89,388,357

Total : $471,124,690

The above total obviously does not include money from the home releases of the 1997 SEs on VHS, VCD and laserdisc. Nor selling the rights to TV companies to show them around the world. Or merchandising and toy sales. Not to mention the free advertising and ‘word of mouth’ publicity for the coming Prequel Trilogy films starting in 1999.


VHS Trailer 1: (18 seconds)

VHS Trailer 2: (15 seconds)


Edit: A decent article from three AV Club staffers about their respective experiences of watching the 1997 SEs at the cinema…

’1997 was the year Star Wars came back and never left’ (article published in 2017 at AVClub•com)


I wish they released the OT and TPM on DVD in 2000 so that we wouldn’t be dependent on VHS to watch the 97SE or TPM unaltered.


I never noticed that the Death Star was in range of Yavin in the SE version. That’s going to bother me for the rest of my life.


we need the 1997 in 4k they are in a odd place only being on vhs and laserdisc while we can watch the original cut in 4k thanks to 4k77/80/83


Thank you for this post and these links!

I forgot about some of this material!

I’m also up for the 1997 SE to be done in 4K to go along with 4K77 & 83!
I haven’t gotten 4K80 yet but I’m looking forward to it as well!