I don’t even think it’s that complicated. I think “I don’t understand it” means he was told “we don’t wanna.” and he was like “You own it, its yours, and you’re not putting it out because… you just don’t WANT to?”
I really do think that’s all there is to it. That’s all there is behind its not being released, and that’s all there is behind his confusion. Because the simplest answer (they just don’t want to) IS confusing and hard to explain. We still can’t do it and we’ve been dedicated to asking why since 2006.
I think there’s also something to be said for the fact Abrams did ask… and then let it drop. He didn’t push for it, or make any argument for it. He was kind of like “shrug” and then went and got the well-known and easily obtainable fan-restorations that everyone on both sides of the consumer/provider line know about.
The interview he gave where he mentioned it didn’t really get much traction and wasn’t repeated too many places, either.
The original version was screened, theatrically, in 70mm last year and it was barely news.
I think at this point, here in 2020, the reason Lucasfilm doesn’t give a press release or officially address why the original versions aren’t available is because the audience for it has become so niche that it’s no longer a concern they feel is worth addressing. The large majority of their audience doesn’t really care which version they get. This is unfair, of course. It’s short-sighted, and endlessly frustrating - and that reality has been artificially induced and then promoted by the company, and the company’s reticence to make those original versions available has further depressed any potential of that original versions audience ever growing again.
But the end result is the same. Lucasfilm knows what the audience size is for the originals, they know who wants it, and how bad they want it, and they’ve apparently decided that for reasons no amount of petitioning or pleading will change, that audience isn’t going to be served.
But at least they’ve also apparently decided to not get in the way of that audience serving itself. So there’s that, I guess. And that audience has gotten amazingly, shockingly, rewardingly GREAT at servicing itself over the past 15 years, too.