So on the Avid Facebook users group someone posted this image, noting the visible garbage matte around the Death Star II
That got a response by Marc Wielage, colorist for 2004s Star Wars and Return of the Jedi releases
Marc has a podcast interview here at mixinglight.com (star wars talk starts at -27:00) where he discusses the film restoration process and a little bit about working on Star Wars. Notably he states that there are two rumours going around that are incorrect.
The first is that because of Georges tampering which goes back to 1999 [sic], the original elements are now damaged and respliced and ruined for ever and ever. That is not true. All the pieces still survive, the original negative pieces still exists. In a hand full of cases, maybe a dozen or two dozen cases, theres a frame or two missing because of splices, film splices, that were made. But those pieces can be reconstituted through various means so its not a lost cause, it is possible.
The second rumour thats out there is that George absolutely detests the original theatrical versions and doesn’t ever wants them out. And the truth of the matter is, number one he sold the studio […] its really Disneys decision now. George does not have a say in it.
The second things is I asked the people at ILM, I didn’t ask George, but I asked some of the other people, do you think it would be possible for us to do this? Is there any harm being doing this way and they said the only reason why we aren’t restoring the original theatrical version of star wars is because it would take too much time and money. And we don’t want to spend the time and money to do it so it’s really a logistics situation, it’s not a creative choice.
Also in George Lucas’s head, the only version of the movies that exist are the ones that are alive in his mind at that moment. So to him the 1977 version of Star Wars no longer exists, only what he sees matters. And its hard to argue with the guy who created all the characters, directed the movie, […] and also owns the copywrites.
And an awkward hello if Marc sees this thread.