This weekend a rumor popped up stating that Disney was actively preparing a blu-ray release of the original Star Wars trilogy in their original theatrical release configuration. Since the mid-1990s, Star Wars impresario George Lucas had insisted that these versions of the films would never be made available again in favor of his reedited “Special Editions,” so the prospect of the original films heading back to the shelves certainly spurred excitement among fans who felt that the changes Lucas made to the films are detrimental to the overall story. That’s right, we’re talking about the infamous “Han Shoots First” debate.
And as much as I would love for this rumor to be legit, I am hesitant to believe it as it has been reported. So let’s first take a look at the original story from ComicBook.com –
According to our sources, Disney has plans to release the original cut of the Star Wars trilogy on Blu-ray. Our sources indicate that the project has been under way for quite some time, but it’s been challenging because of some damage to the original negatives they are utilizing. The goal is to release A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of Jedi in their complete, unaltered, original form without the redone special edition SFX.
I am sure that Disney would like nothing better than to release the original, unaltered Star Wars trilogy on blu-ray. The market is definitely there for them and the studio has to do a lot of exploiting of the franchise to earn back the $4.1 billion that they dropped to buy Lucasfilm.
But let’s not forget that while Disney does indeed own the Star Wars franchise, 20th Century Fox still owns the distribution rights to the films, specifically they own the perpetual right to distribute the original film, while their original deal with Lucas gave them the distribution rights to The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi through 2020 . If Disney were to put out the trilogy on blu-ray they could only do so in conjunction with 20th Century Fox. Likewise, if Fox wanted to put the films out on their own, they wouldn’t be able to as, as they would need Disney’s participation.
I am not saying that a deal between the two couldn’t be reached. In fact I doubt that the two studios wouldn’t try and do something that would be mutually beneficial for them. It’s just that I don’t see any mention of that in their reporting, and I think that would have been a significantly important detail to either ask one’s source or call attention to the fact that they aren’t sure if a deal has been finalized. And it is this lack of information that is giving me pause right now. Until we hear further, and perhaps a bit more officially, I wouldn’t be getting my hopes on this.