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Is it Lucas, or Fox, who has prevented the restored OOT release?

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OK so… since the whole special edition vs. theatrical release issue started, I have thought, from all that I have read (such as on SaveStarWars.com, and various articles), that it was Lucas’ decision to not restore and make available the theatrical releases in high definition. I just found out tonight that my husband has thought this whole time that it is because Fox has distribution rights and they are preventing this, not Lucas. I have articles that say the former, but he looked it up tonight and is correct that until this month, Fox does have distribution rights–but is that why they haven’t been released? If so, why did Lucas give many other reasons but not that one? Can someone please clear up this mystery for us? Maybe it’s all in “People vs Lucas”?? We haven’t watched that yet.

Here’s an article I wrote about this whole issue in 2011, for anyone who’s interested! 😃
https://www.ourgazebo.net/star-wars-blu-ray-and-a-boycott.html

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Disney owns all of what was 20th Century Fox now and everything Fox owned the rights to, so that ain’t the reason.

The consensus seems to be that the people currently in charge at Lucasfilm feel a sense of loyalty to George, and that Disney might have even made a gentlemens’ agreement with the man not to release anything other than his preferred versions.

I happen to think it simply comes down to greed on Disney’s part and the desire to maximize profits. For all we know, they might have been planning from the get-go to eventually give the unaltereds their due … after they’d reissued the 2011 blu-rays several times and then at least once on 4k UHD, of course. If that’s in fact the case (we have no way of knowing, but we can speculate) then it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the massive financial losses they’re about to incur this year, err, “accelerate” their plans just a little.

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Fang Zei said:
The consensus seems to be that the people currently in charge at Lucasfilm feel a sense of loyalty to George,

It’s this.

I happen to think it simply comes down to greed on Disney’s part and the desire to maximize profits.

Not this.

Either way - Fox never had anything to do with the original versions not being distributed. That was never at any point anything other than misguided fan speculation repeated so often on forums and comments sections that people just took it as read and repeated it themselves. There was never any inkling that theory had any basis in fact, it just sounded plausible-ish provided you didn’t look into it too closely, and nobody “winning” arguments on a messageboard was inclined to do that anyway.

It’s the same with the “Lucas built a clause into the contract” story that has since replaced the “Fox won’t let them” story that’s been mooted for almost 10 years. Lucas never built a clause into a contract, and Iger never agreed to such a clause. The entire notion of the clause even existing is a fan invention.

The holdup is Lucasfilm. Not Disney. And the people with the power to get it done at Lucasfilm don’t want to do it. If they did, it would be done already.

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Broom Kid said:

Fang Zei said:
The consensus seems to be that the people currently in charge at Lucasfilm feel a sense of loyalty to George,

It’s this.

I happen to think it simply comes down to greed on Disney’s part and the desire to maximize profits.

Not this.

Either way - Fox never had anything to do with the original versions not being distributed. That was never at any point anything other than misguided fan speculation repeated so often on forums and comments sections that people just took it as read and repeated it themselves. There was never any inkling that theory had any basis in fact, it just sounded plausible-ish provided you didn’t look into it too closely, and nobody “winning” arguments on a messageboard was inclined to do that anyway.

It’s the same with the “Lucas built a clause into the contract” story that has since replaced the “Fox won’t let them” story that’s been mooted for almost 10 years. Lucas never built a clause into a contract, and Iger never agreed to such a clause. The entire notion of the clause even existing is a fan invention.

The holdup is Lucasfilm. Not Disney. And the people with the power to get it done at Lucasfilm don’t want to do it. If they did, it would be done already.

Maybe, but I’m not so sure just how much loyalty they’ll feel once they start feeling the pressure from the higher ups at Disney to make them as much money as possible by any means necessary.

As for George, half of that $4 billion he got paid in the sale was in Disney stock, not actual cash. It’s in his interest to see the company do well, and that might override his desire to withhold the “rough drafts” of his work from the public.

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Fang Zei said:

Maybe, but I’m not so sure just how much loyalty they’ll feel once they start feeling the pressure from the higher ups at Disney to make them as much money as possible by any means necessary.

The money Disney is losing isn’t about to be made up by releasing the Original Trilogy to Disney+, though. That’s not feasible or plausible. Lucasfilm is already driving a lot of traffic to that platform (and to Disney in general) as it is and it’s not really having much of an effect on those losses, because those losses aren’t really FROM the movies division. Disney’s losses are being most strongly felt in the parks being closed, and sports being gone. Theaters being closed is hurting them, yes, but that’s not a particularly large concern in the face of their owning their own streaming network. They just moved the Hamilton release up a year and a half, for example.

As for George, half of that $4 billion he got paid in the sale was in Disney stock, not actual cash. It’s in his interest to see the company do well,

The original versions aren’t big enough for that to be a concern. They just aren’t. It’s not a money thing. Lucasfilm just doesn’t want to do it right now. They probably will, eventually. But there’s no weird conspiracy behind it. No contractual stipulations, no distribution problems. And it’s not a spite thing, either. They just… don’t want to do it.

For now.

When they do, it probably won’t be due to money concerns, either.

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I really doubt it it’s even loyalty. I just think they don’t wanna do it plain and simple.

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I think it’s definitely contracted between Lucas and Disney to not release the OOT. No loyalty. Since 2012 there hasn’t been any official word spoken or written if/why they/they won’t release it. And that’s probably because they won’t endanger another shitstorm on Lucas - at least during his lifetime. Because that is going to happen when they tell us that he is the only reason.

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DuracellEnergizer said:

They don’t care.

Nuff said.

That, and they have so much on their plate with Marvel, Fox etc. that some old versions of the movies they just released are most likely not even near their radar.

And in the time of greatest despair, there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as the Son of the Suns.

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Even if they were willing to release the OUT I can’t imagine it happening so soon after the Skywalker set just came out. Disney+ maybe but even that’s stretching it but physical media?? Yeah not right after a big box set had just came out.

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Broom Kid said:

Fang Zei said:

Maybe, but I’m not so sure just how much loyalty they’ll feel once they start feeling the pressure from the higher ups at Disney to make them as much money as possible by any means necessary.

The money Disney is losing isn’t about to be made up by releasing the Original Trilogy to Disney+, though. That’s not feasible or plausible. Lucasfilm is already driving a lot of traffic to that platform (and to Disney in general) as it is and it’s not really having much of an effect on those losses, because those losses aren’t really FROM the movies division. Disney’s losses are being most strongly felt in the parks being closed, and sports being gone. Theaters being closed is hurting them, yes, but that’s not a particularly large concern in the face of their owning their own streaming network. They just moved the Hamilton release up a year and a half, for example.

As for George, half of that $4 billion he got paid in the sale was in Disney stock, not actual cash. It’s in his interest to see the company do well,

The original versions aren’t big enough for that to be a concern. They just aren’t. It’s not a money thing. Lucasfilm just doesn’t want to do it right now. They probably will, eventually. But there’s no weird conspiracy behind it. No contractual stipulations, no distribution problems. And it’s not a spite thing, either. They just… don’t want to do it.

For now.

When they do, it probably won’t be due to money concerns, either.

Who said anything about Disney+? They’ll probably never do that. I was talking about physical media. Highly unlikely it’ll happen this year or next, since they just released the UHD’s barely a month and a half ago, but Disney’s still got another Star Wars movie pencilled in for the end of 2022. Sounds like the perfect occasion for an expensive holiday-timed multi-disc collector’s set with the unaltered and ‘97 versions thrown in.

They could give the prequels the same treatment, maybe with the Imax cut of AotC although that’s a long shot. Even the Disney-era stuff had conspicuously absent stuff like, for example, any mention at all of Harrison Ford’s leg injury on TFA, and deleted scenes for Rogue One, Solo, and TRoS. They could always throw in the 3D version just to add an extra disc to all 11 films and up the price point.

Look, I’m not saying they’ll “need” to do any of this out of financial desperation. But what I am saying is that a barebones UHD with previously released extras (extras they couldn’t take the time to properly author, apparently) can’t possibly be the last disc-based release of Star Wars.

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Fang Zei said:

Who said anything about Disney+? They’ll probably never do that. I was talking about physical media.

I brought up Disney+ because that’s the most likely/plausible means of the original versions being released now. Physical media is a dying entertainment niche, and for the purposes of the argument you were making re: financial incentive and rewards, at this point the prioritized financial rewards they’re seeking come through online VOD rentals and subscriptions to streaming platforms. Physical media releases are a secondary or tertiary concern. The now-normalized practice of making digital versions available three weeks before the physical copy drops was a big part of that.

Don’t get me wrong - I had the same hopes you’re describing in that post, and I allow those hopes to take up space in my head and heart every time there’s a new release announced, because that’s the best time to have those hopes and let them live a little. The Skywalker Saga set showed me openly hoping for the things you suggested, you can even check my post history and see me putting them out there, LOL!

But when that hope doesn’t bear fruit (and it hasn’t for about 20 years now), I let it go until a time where it MIGHT apply again. And right now I’m not seeing any reason to revive it, because once again it seems pretty clear that nobody’s preventing the original version’s official release, and there’s not really any financial incentive applying pressure against that unwillingness to release it. Lucasfilm doesn’t want to do it right now. Nothing’s stopping them. They just don’t care to do it.

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George once said that ‘once all the older VHS tapes are worn out the only thing left will be my version’.

Looking at Disney’s negative attitude towards film preservation even just recently I feel like they have the same idea. Eventually people will forget that Solo had directorial problems. People will forget that Star Wars 1977 didn’t include Jabba. People will even forget that Splash didn’t include CGI censorship. The digital domain will be the only thing left and they will own it.

Yub Nub for life

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IMO it’s something even worse than simple personal loyalty to George, it’s an ideological deference the the expressed wishes of the perceived creator of any property. The reason that distinction is important is that once George dies (this is speaking in terms of an unavoidable timeline), personal loyalty evaporates – he’ll never know, right? – while the ideology of deference to the wishes of the creator will continue.

It’s a small niggle, but it’s why we won’t see the OOT in any official releases until the copyright expires and public-domain outfits (who are, let’s face it, in for a quick buck and have no delusions of artistry) can get a crack at it. And that’s why (sigh) projects like Legacy that take the longer view are still important. Lucasfilm might bury Legacy, but Laserlight will jump at it. In a century or so, Mike’s grandkids can seal the deal and my grandkids can watch it.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

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I personally think they have bought into Lucas and McCallums take that it isn’t possible. We know it is.

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Just because Lucas added some changes in special editions, it does not mean the whole thing became a different film, and it certainly does not mean that Fox suddenly did not own the rights any more. So if Fox opposed re-release of the film, then there would be no special editions either. It is a simple logic.

For Fox, it was a win-win situation whatever Lucas wanted to re-release, because it was Lucasfilm who had to spend money and produce the re-releases, while Fox basically just profited with almost no effort. If Lucas was willing to spend money and restore the original version, Fox would without doubt happily welcome the “free” profit.

真実

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I disagree with respect. I see the Special Edition as a fundamentally different film trilogy. Its like a remake. And i find it unwatchable, i tried watching the 2020 Special Edition and i hated every single change, it just is not Star Wars anymore. The novelty of the Special Edition for me wore off in about 2000. When i realized the original was being actively suppressed and we were unlikely to ever see another release. The last scan was done for Laserdisc in 1993. In 2020 i realize its never going to happen at least in my lifetime.

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JadedSkywalker said:

I disagree with respect. I see the Special Edition as a fundamentally different film trilogy. Its like a remake.

Well you might disagree and see it as a “fundamentally different film” all you want, but that does not change the fact that legally it is not. Fox would still get the profit for no effort and therefore had nothing to do with the original version not being released. If Lucas wanted to put the effort to restore the original version, Fox would be happy to take the free profit from it.

真実

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TawnyMadison said:

Here’s an article I wrote about this whole issue in 2011, for anyone who’s interested! 😃
https://www.ourgazebo.net/star-wars-blu-ray-and-a-boycott.html

Hi, and a belated welcome to the site, Tawny.

I really enjoyed reading your article, it brought back a lot of memories from around the time - and also found it a quality read. Thank you for posting a link to it on here.
 

Lucasfim’s continuing silence on the issue of release for the unaltered theatrical version has always been baffling to many of us (whether an update, detail information, or just an answer to the countless requests they still receive asking for an official release of the OOT). After all, being open, honest and transparent on an issue they have previously acknowledged to be of importance to many fans… all whilst making new content and associated content on the GFFA for the same fans to buy and experience… is probably the least they could do.

With the exception of unofficial and oblique remarks by the likes of Pablo Hidalgo - “There’s one pretty noteworthy person who doesn’t want them released. Shouldn’t be too hard to research who that is.”, and JJ Abrams - “I’ve been told that, for reasons that I don’t quite understand, that that’s not necessarily possible.”, the last statement from Lucasfilm (that I can recall; it is Sunday morning and I haven’t had my coffee as yet) was their somewhat disingenuous Press Release back in 2006 ?

It seems Lucasfilm are unwilling to address the issue at all, and instead are content to release unannounced new Special Edition versions of the Original Trilogy - with more changes (re the 2019 SE version release on Disney+). That, along with a vast array of other content for the GFFA - much of which is underpinned on those three iconic films… which we cannot have the option to purchase and enjoy in their original theatrical form.
 

Which is obviously a great shame for us fans - as we all love, respect and admire Lucasfilm and everyone connected with making these much-loved original groundbreaking movies, whilst also appreciating their work and content since - and yet…

…for Lucasfilm, a simple question from the fans is seemingly too much for them to provide an answer to.
 

Hope you enjoy the ‘People vs George Lucas’ doc 😃
 

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I second Jason’s welcome to the board. We can always use another passioned and reasoned voice. That’s an excellent piece you wrote in 2011. Like a great many of us here, you are fighting the good fight.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

You’re killing me, Smalls.

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The last i heard it was an oxymoron to release the Original. That was Lucas final word on the subject in 2011 or was it 2010. It was around the time of the blu ray release. The other thing he said was there were pipelines for these things or some other BS.
I take him at his word when he said he never had any intention of the Original ever being made available again. He said it in the press and it is documented.

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JadedSkywalker said:

The last i heard it was an oxymoron to release the Original. That was Lucas final word on the subject in 2011 or was it 2010. It was around the time of the blu ray release. The other thing he said was there were pipelines for these things or some other BS.

The ‘oxymoron’ thing you refer to is George saying this?:-

'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.”

^ source: ‘Star Wars’ Films Coming to Blu-ray Next Year’ - 2010 article based on a telephone interview with George Lucas for the NY Times.
 

That seems to be another disingenuous statement from George given what we know now - and what has also been achieved by fans in their preservation projects.

Along with the possibility of backwards engineering the ‘new’ 1997 SE based master (used as the base for the 2019 SE version) to include the unaltered theatrical version footage - as just one possible ‘quick and easy’ solution - IF indeed there were no good quality OOT copies or backups made.
 

No fate but what we make - apart from force dyads!

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Fated-Dualist said:

'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.”
 

I still find it hard to imagine George saying all this with a straight face. Even he has be aware of how stupid this sounds. Despite no longer being in charge of Lucasfilm, I’m sure by now he also has to be at least somewhat aware of recent fan preservation efforts and the significant advancements that have been made since those statements, which have completely disproven his argument.