What Is This Release?
Lucasfilm plans on releasing "the original theatrical incarnations" of the Star Wars trilogy on September 12th, 2006. Little is Officially known at this point, apart from the Press Release issued on May 4th, 2006. The Press Release has changed over the last few days for unknown reasons, but currently has written some edited out information back in. (See details below)
What Makes These Editions The Original Theatrical Incarnations?
Essentially the DVD's will contain each of the films, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, & Return Of The Jedi as they were in their theatrical EDIT form, which differs from both the 1997 Special Editions, and 2004 DVD Box Set.
Wait A Minute - There Are MANY Different Versions Of The Theatrical Runs!
This is true. Star Wars has experienced many changes through the years, including several different sound mixes, Special Effects revamps and Digitally Remastering. We know little at this point except that the film edits will be from 1977, 1980 and 1983. The first film in the series (Star Wars) is reportedly being issued with the pre-Episode IV: A New Hope title crawl, as it was in 1977 before the subsequent re-release.
According to the Official press release each film will be in Dolby 2.0 Surround Sound, released in a two-disc set, coupled with the 2004 DVD release which many already have. While you are getting the O-OT, you should be aware of this.
The different soundmixes are explored in many threads on this Forum, and the above link is a good starting point. At this point we just don't know if Star Wars will feature the original 1977 Dolby Sound Mix or any of the post-1985 remixes.
From Where Did Lucasfilm Source These New DVD's?
Currently this is the hot-button debate of the hour. Until we have concrete evidence all is conjecture.
In an article from May 4th, 2006 in USA Today Lucasfilm's Jim Ward stated that the picture quality will not be up to 2006 standards, but "state of the art, as of 1993." This has led many Forum Members to believe that the DVD's will feature the 1993 Laserdisc Transfers of the Trilogy that were used to make various officiallaserdisc sets and subsequent fan preservation projects - however, debate on the Forums has revealed the following:
Having said all of this, an interesting post appeared on Millennium Falcon by Darth First, who if you aren't familiar with, has proven very reliable and accurate in the past with insider scoops. He claims that the 1993 masters are not being used at all, but rather an extensive restoration process is underway at Lucasfilm to present the O-OT in the quality that is "expected from Lucasfilm" releases. Additionally, a Forum Member of originaltrilogy.com claims to have a friend that works in a film lab and has washed the negatives of the original cut recently.
Why Bother? Are These Going To Be Laserdisc Quality?
No! Even is the DVD's are sourced from the Laserdisc Masters, this doesn't mean Lucasfilm simply transferred a Laserdisc to DVD. The Masters used for the Laserdiscs would look substantially better on DVD. It is important to note again, that at this point we only have a few cryptic clues as to where the discs are sourced from.
At this point, we can assume that the films won't look as vibrant and polished (for better or for worse) as their 2004 DVD incarnations, leading many to hopefully speculate that they are untouched. Given Lucas' reputation, many are waiting with bated breath.
Where can I find articles in the mainstream media about this release?
This was big news in the media, to be sure. After years of petioning Lucasfilm everywhere from (of course) the massive collection of signatures to actually asking the man himself directly at conventions, we finally made a break through. It is no wonder this story was picked up. Thanks to several Forum members for the leads on these stories, which are now linked here:
USA Today - May 4th, 2006
Baltimore Sun - May 5th, 2006
Zap 2 It - May 4th, 2006
Yahoo News (Criticizes Lucasfilm Gouging Fans)
Waiting On Bothan Spies To Produce More Info...