Last week Star Wars fans were thrilled to hear that Disney and Lucasfilm may finally be releasing the unaltered, theatrical cuts of the original trilogy on Blu-ray this year. This is something that has long been desired by hardcore fans and is something that we have heard quite a bit about over the years. Sadly, it seems like these recent rumors are just like all of the other ones and Disney won’t actually be releasing the unaltered versions of the original Star Wars trilogy on Blu-ray. At least not this year.
The most recent rumors came courtesy of the fan site Making Star Wars, who are typically a very reliable source for information on all things related to a galaxy far, far away. According to them, in honor of the upcoming 40th anniversary of the release of Star Wars in 1977, Disney was finally going to be releasing the theatrical versions of the original Star Wars trilogy on Blu-ray, which would be the first time those cuts have been released in high-definition. Sadly, a new report from The Digital Bits seems to be putting that rumor to bed. Here is what they had to say about it
“We’ve essentially confirmed that Disney’s current 4K scan of the film is the most recent revised version (essentially the latest “special edition”), not the original theatrical edition. What’s more, Disney’s director of Library Restoration and Preservation, Theo Gluck, held a special event at Ohio State University’s Wexner Center for the Arts last night, a presentation called Animation Restoration at Walt Disney Studios. Gluck was asked there about Star Wars and reported that the original cut negative for the film currently exists in its “SE” configuration only.”
Assuming this is true, and there is a pretty solid source here, the original unaltered cuts of A New Hope, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi don’t even exist. However, the report from The Digital Bits goes on to say that the bits that were trimmed from the original prints have been preserved. So if Disney felt so inclined, they could have the prints reassembled. But as it stands, it seems like those prints don’t exist and that would make it pretty much impossible for a Blu-ray release to happen before Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters this December.
George Lucas was so confident that the “Special Edition” versions of the original Star Wars trilogy that were released in 1997 were the versions that he wanted audiences to see. So, he altered the original prints, which has been part of the problem. The best anyone who wants to see the original trilogy in its original form can do is a DVD set released in November 2006. The set included the original unaltered theatrical prints of each movie on a separate disc from the Special Edition versions. Unfortunately, the unaltered versions took video sourced from the 1993 LaserDisc release, which was much lower in quality compared to the Special Edition. That 2006 set was the last time the original theatrical editions were released in any home video format, which is a major bummer for many fans around the world.
A 40th anniversary panel is set to kickoff Star Wars Celebration this April in Florida and Disney would gain a lot of favor with fans if they were to announced plans to release Blu-ray version of the original, unaltered Star Wars trilogy, but that doesn’t seem likely at this point. One of the other issues possibly getting in the way is that Fox still owns the rights to Star Wars: A New Hope, so they would have to cut some sort of deal to make that happen. It is also worth noting that since Disney hasn’t come out and said anything official one way or the other, it is possible that they could announce some sort of plans to release the movies on Blu-ray, but just don’t get your hopes up. For now, you’re going to have to continue to deal with that ridiculous song in Jabba’s palace and Han not shooting first.