Here's something interesting I read on another forum:
I saw STAR WARS back when it first came out in May of '77 at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood on the SECOND day after premiere. Waited three hours and had no idea what to expect but we were blown away. I learned after that only a few selected cities (like Los Angeles) got the 70mm six-channel magnetic stripe version and that most cities got the 35mm optical stereo soundtrack.
At any rate, we went back to the Chinese about 5 more times in 1977 (last time at Christmas) to see the movie and then (for old times sake) I saw it in 1997 at the Chinese for the anniversary reissue. Well, that was a disappointment. Soft picture, extra junk added to the effects, the soundtrack squashed and pulverized just like all the movies of the 1990s. A waste of time.
Last night a famous collector pulled out his 1977 70mm mag print of STAR WARS and projected it for a few selected guests. I mean, a guy rich enough to be able to project 70 in his screening room? C'mon, how eccentric is that?
At any rate, even though the print had "turned" a bit, the picture AND SOUND were just like I remembered from 1977; sharp, clean and the sound was dynamic as all heck. Watching it like this, the movie held up remarkably well. In fact, we were on the edge of our seats for the "swiped from '30 Seconds Over Tokyo" style battle at the end. It was great.
Why can't they take this print, transfer it to high rez and just release it on a DVD? It looks (and sounds) so much better than any other laserdisc or DVD I've ever seen of STAR WARS. There had to have been at least 70 db of dynamic range on the mag soundtrack of this thing. Compare that to the 10 db of dynamics of the reissue sound mix. Urggh. And what happened to the picture quality of the reissue? You'd think the orignal camera neg had been destroyed and the soft, flabby, diffused image that they came up with in the reissue was the best they could do. I know that's not true so what was the reasoning? If you could have seen what I saw last night, crystal clear picture, sharp focus and everything. NOTHING like what you see when you watch the movie now. Somewhere down the line someone made a decision to degrade the picture, why I don't know. Did they bounce the entire movie to digital and back to film again? For what reason? Oh well. End of rant.