By Dan Moren
April 7, 2015 6:59 AM PT
Star Wars makes the iTunes run (in less than 12 parsecs)
Just this week, on the Mac Power Users episode I guested on, we mentioned that the Star Wars films weren’t available online—one of the last major holdouts of the digital era. Fast forward to Monday evening, and bam: Disney announces that it’s rolling out all three1 episodes in HD at online retailers, including iTunes, this Friday, April 10. (Nothing else going on that day, right?) It’s not really surprising, given that we’re now hitting the serious promotional run-up to Star Wars: Episode VII release.2
Weirdly, I still don’t own any of the Star Wars films on DVD or Blu-ray. The last version I bought for myself was the VHS box set of the dreaded Special Edition, way back circa 1998. (I also own a VHS box set of the originals and was given a set of the Laserdiscs—which remains the best unadulterated version of the original trilogy to date, I believe.)
The promise of new special features for this re-release is enticing, but it’s hard for me to summon the will to shell out another $60 for the Special Edition—especially when you’ve seen or heard tell of the truly fantastic Despecialized Edition that has the same great taste with way less
But the announcement also made me remember that years ago, Jason and I had a conversation—as we were driving down to Cupertino for some Apple event or another—that the plan should be to release remastered versions of the original cut for a premium, like $100. Bill it as the version for film students who are looking to study it as an example of 1970s movie-making, even though the die-hard fans would flock to it and gladly hand over their cash.
Despite George Lucas’s insistence that the Special Edition is “The Way It Always Should Have Been”—and does he then mean the 1997 version or the later altered-for-DVD version?—I feel somewhat optimistic that Disney, the current stewards, will see it’s to their advantage to spruce up and release the original cuts. Because it will earn them both money and goodwill with Star Wars fans everywhere—and weighed against the happiness of George Lucas, well, that’s kind of a no-brainer, right?
Update: Reader BJ Nemeth reminds me that the original trilogy distribution rights belong to 20th Century Fox, not Disney, until 2020. So unless those two decide to team up, we may be waiting a bit longer.
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