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Was Star Wars ever released on home video in widescreen with the Dolby Stereo mix?

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I know it was released in pan-and-scan on VHS, Betamax, and Laserdisc in 1982, but was it ever released in widescreen? I have heard the 1985 mix wasn’t on Laserdisc until later but I have also heard the 1985 mix was included in the Japanese Special Collection Laserdiscs. Any information on this is greatly appreciated.

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kujythrgefdw said:

I have already asked this in Theatrical Cuts vs. Subsequent Releases but I didn’t get an answer to my question. This is an interesting subject to me, because the original Dolby Stereo mix was on pan-and-scan releases in 1982, but I have never heard of a widescreen release with the Dolby mix. The first widescreen release of A New Hope was on the Japanese Special Collection Laserdiscs in 1986, but they had the 1985 mix. However, I have heard (correct me if I’m wrong) that some Laserdiscs released after the Special Collection had the Dolby mix. The question is, is this true and were any of them widescreen? I am asking this because I wonder what would be closest to the 1981 theatrical re-release, since the only home video release with the original crawl were the 2006 bonus discs, and those have DVNR and the 1993 audio mix.

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The 1992 Letterbox VHS release has the 1985 mix which is mostly the original stereo mix just with 3P0’s tractor beam line added. Aside from that I’m not sure. The 1993 and 1995 LD releases had the 1993 remix which had some new sounds added.

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The 1985 mix has some sweetened sound effects, new stereo’d effects and the addition of C-3PO’s line in the Death Star. As I said, I heard it wasn’t on Laserdisc until a few years later, so it’s possible the stereo mix might have been on a widescreen release.

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Is your question about the mix or it is if the other home video releases had the matrixed Dolby Surround encoding. The 1977 Stereo (encoded Dolby Surround) was never on home video in widescreen. It has been included in a wide variety of fan releases of the GOUT as well as the Silver Screen Edition and 4K77. All home video releases of the Star Wars trilogy were encoded for Dolby Surround. If you run any of them through a Dolby surround sound decoder, you will get the original 4 channel surround. Be it the original theatrical mix, the 1985 mix, or the 1993 mix for Star Wars, Empire, or Jedi. But if you want the 1977 experience, it was never on home video. Plenty of releases around here if you care to look. 4K77 would be the best quality all around. Plenty of tools to take the GOUT and replace the audio with the 1977 stereo soundtrack.

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Sorry if I wasn’t clear enough, but I was talking about the 1977 Dolby Stereo mix. It’s a shame that all home video releases are either cropped or altered from the 1981 re-release version, but Star Wars is Star Wars.

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kujythrgefdw said:

Sorry if I wasn’t clear enough, but I was talking about the 1977 Dolby Stereo mix. That stinks that all home video releases are either cropped or altered, but whatever. Star Wars is Star Wars.

I feel you. My holy grail is the 77 mono soundtrack and that was never on any home video release. The best quality version comes from a UK television broadcast (with some additional copies on film prints). Fortunately this site has enabled me to track down all the audio and rebuild all the video so I can watch whatever version I want. My next goal is to repeat that in HD.

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yotsuya said:

kujythrgefdw said:

Sorry if I wasn’t clear enough, but I was talking about the 1977 Dolby Stereo mix. That stinks that all home video releases are either cropped or altered, but whatever. Star Wars is Star Wars.

I feel you. My holy grail is the 77 mono soundtrack and that was never on any home video release. The best quality version comes from a UK television broadcast (with some additional copies on film prints). Fortunately this site has enabled me to track down all the audio and rebuild all the video so I can watch whatever version I want. My next goal is to repeat that in HD.

My Star Wars audio holy grail is ALL of the original 77 soundtrack mixes. Choose the one you want to watch the movie with. The recent “Superman” 4k disc reveals how good original Dolby 6-track can be at home, despite using only lossy Dolby Digital. Of course “Superman” has split surrounds, which “Star Wars” does not. I’ve never seen it mentioned, but I do wonder if “Star Wars” used any dialog panning in the 6-track (same for ESB and ROTJ). In any case, as with “Superman” I would expect the stereo and surround effects to be considerably more aggressive on the 6-track than with Dolby Stereo. “Superman” makes it obvious that the Dolby engineers were very conservative with optical SVA Dolby Stereo at the time, due to concerns of playback in the vast majority of theaters at the time which had not yet been updated for Dolby Stereo, if they had any stereo capability at all. My understanding is that the Dolby Stereo mix was originally intended to be the one used for playback in monaural and non-Dolby theaters, with 11 of the exclusive first run theaters receiving Dolby SVA 35mm prints not being equipped for Dolby Stereo and possibly not for stereo at all. It was only after the success of “Star Wars” became obvious that the monaural mix was created for the general release 35mm prints planned later in the year.

I was long under the mistaken impression that I experienced “Star Wars” in 70mm Dolby 6-track during its initial release, because the theater where I saw it the first six or seven times in 1977-78 was fully equipped for 70mm Todd-AO 6-track, and I experienced MANY movies there later in 70mm Dolby 6-track. Among them was “Return of the Jedi” with the 70mm print stolen from the theater becoming national news. Apparently our 816 seat theater wasn’t considered worthy of a 70mm print by the studios in 1977. Columbia didn’t provide a 70mm print of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” for the theater that year either. I did see “Star Wars” once with the monaural soundtrack during the general release, at a shopping mall 4-plex. I found the dirty appearance and dull sound (both likely due to the theater’s equipment and handling of the print) to be rather disappointing after my previous grand experiences of “Star Wars” in 35mm Dolby Stereo on a 35 foot tall screen.

There’s also the issue of the possible 4-track magnetic on the cinemascope 35mm prints. It seems questionable whether that format was used on any domestic prints, or on any prints at all. Regardless I’m for including it if it is available. 4-track was obviously the source for the Dolby Stereo mix and it would be nice to have it with full 4 channel separation. I also don’t think any of our home theater equipment processes Dolby Stereo exactly the way cinema decoders did in the 1970s and 80s (or ever has), making it more difficult/impossible to recreate the 1977 Dolby Stereo (SVA) experience at home.

Ultimately, I’d just like to have the capability to recreate at home (to the extent possible) each of the ways the original trilogy movies were experienced during their original theatrical runs. “Star Wars” was the first to use Dolby 6-track, and one of the first to use Dolby Stereo at all. It will soon be 43 years since opening day.

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There is no widescreen Laserdisc release with the original 35mm stereo mix from 77. Not in the US and not in Japan at least. I cannot speak for other countries. Also all widescreen tapes in the US are the 1985 mix or 1993 mix.

The original mix is on the first issued pan and scan time compressed laserdisc in Analog sound, and on the 1985 CAV release. It is on the Fox rental tape VHS and the first issue non rental tape.

It also is in digital format on a pan and scan Japanese Laserdisc.