Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Opinion: About Those Unaltered Original Trilogy Release Rumors...


There has been a story that's been making its way around the Internet the last few days, that Disney is planning on releasing the unaltered versions of the Orginal Trilogy on home media.  This would include on demand services as well as DVD and Blu-ray.  The story, which was first reported by Bleeding Cool, has been picked up by many other fansites and bloggers and many of them are jumping for joy at the prospect of owning versions of the films where Greedo doesn't shoot first and Darth Vader doesn't cry "NOOOOO" at the end of Return of the Jedi.

I, however, have my doubts that it will happen.

Before we continue, let me make it perfectly clear where I stand in all this.  I have absolutely no problems with ANY of the changes made to the films.  I have defended them before, and will defend them again.  I am perfectly happy with the copies of all six films I currently own on blu-ray.  That being said, if (and that's a big if) the original theatrical versions of the films were released, I would certainly buy them.

Now let's talk about why Disney would do this.  I'm not here to debate costs or if original versions of the films even exist.  There is no real way of knowing the truth unless you work for Lucasfilm/Disney and have access to the archives.  The how, is not the issue at hand.  I want to know WHY Disney should put effort into this.  Yes, it would appease many Original Trilogy purists.  But is brownie points from a subculture within a subculture enough to make it worthwhile for Disney? 

Like most of Hollywood, Disney's goal is to attract the biggest audience possible.  To do this, their goal is to constantly push for as much new content as possible.  Hollywood operates with the same mentality as Barney Stinson, "New is always better."  We can debate whether or not this is the right way to do business all you want, but it's hard to argue with the facts.  We all stay after the credits in a Marvel movie to catch a glimpse at what's next.  We're not satisfied with just seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we stay through the credits for teases at what's to come in Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Why?  Because new is always better.

So let's look at what Disney's got coming up for Star Wars.  Priority #1 is, and should be, 2015's Star Wars Episode VII.  Disney expects this film alone to make over $1 Billion.  Priority #2 is likely Star Wars Rebels.  Establishing Star Wars on the small screen on a Disney channel, as well as bringing in the younger viewers thanks to the animation medium.  Priority #3, the Spin off Films, again with the potential for hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars.  Priority #4, video games.  Successful video games can gross hundreds of millions of dollars, Disney is likely hoping that Star Wars games can join that group.

So with resources being poured into all those new, upcoming projects, with the potential for buckets and buckets of money (as well as bringing in new fans) what is the value in re-releasing these films?  Comparatively speaking, it's not that much.  The release of the complete saga on blu-ray in 2011 grossed over $84 Million dollars.  While that's nothing to sneeze at, it is still barely 6% of what The Avengers (a film that I feel is a fair comparable to what Episode VII is likely to do) grossed.  On top of that, to the general public, it will just seem like ANOTHER Star Wars re-release.  The general public doesn't care about special editions and will likely be happy with their current copies of the films and not pick them up.  And then there's the fact that 20th Century Fox owns the distribution rights for the films.  So any revenue made on the release would have to be split with Fox, a direct competitor to Disney.

So while a re-release of the new films will make Disney some money, it's nothing that should make them reconsider their priorities and put the focus on restoring the films to their original versions.  Disney did not pay $4.05 Billion to re-release the old Star Wars films and make a little money, they paid $4.05 Billion dollars to release new Star Wars films and make A LOT of money.

But then again, anything is possible.  As a very wise man once said, "Always in motion is the future...."

You can follow Dominic on Twitter: @DominicJ25
This article is an opinion piece and represents the views of the writer, and not the entire Star Wars Underworld organization.


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