What was the early print run of The Hobbit in the 30's? More people likely saw Star Wars between 1977 and 1997 by a mile.
The big difference is also this one: we know for sure Tolkien worked with a professional mind, or a care for authenticity and details. I'm sure Tolkien worked at making it better.
That is not at all the mind Lucas has, who's all devoted to commercial and business issues. We know his change are not for the best, but for playing around or test his new toys, deteriorating needlessly the whole thing.
Plus: we know he generates tons of money, and that it would cost "nothing" for him to restore the original in the best quality you could dream of. Spending money in quality !... What a loss for those people.
George Lucas works for that: