Last night Lucasfilm announced officially that they will be releasing all 6 Star Wars movies in theaters again, but this time IN 3D! (you have to shout it) Starting in 2012 when Episode I is released, with one a year coming after that supposedly.
I’m not excited as one would expect. In fact while I am a Star Wars fan, this only give me bad feelings. Let me break them down for you.
Bad Feeling 1: 3D Release
I am not opposed to movies being shot in 3D when it serves a purpose. Computer animated features that are already modelled in 3D are acceptable, along with movies the director shoots specifically to be in 3D as with Avatar. However, a lot of movies have been forced to be in 3D after the fact and suffer for it. In fact, 3D is such a big thing now that Warner Brothers is talking about actually forcing Christopher Nolan to shoot his next Batman movie in 3D even though he doesn’t want to do it. The studios can charge more a ticket, and people will pay it.
Now Lucas has decided to ride this 3D wave and convert the Star Wars movies to 3D. These movies were not filmed in 3D, so they will have to be converted. By hand. Frame-by-frame. They’re going to take a year per movie (which is better since most movies only have a month or so before release). I’m sure we’re talking hundreds of man-hours per movie. Actually my rough estimate is if they spend an hour per frame, it will take over 20 man-years to do one movie. That’s a lot of work.
And for what purpose? Have people be clamoring for classic movies to be released in 3D? Didn’t we laugh at James Cameron for wanting to release Titanic 3D? This 3D thing is widely regarded as a money-making scheme for the studios because they can charge more. Does Lucas not think he has enough of our money? At least the Special Edition release in 1997 was (1) celebrating an anniversary, (2) used as a test bed for the prequel effects, and (3) was basically a fundraiser for the prequels which we all thought we wanted. What are these releases going towards? The live action TV show that Lucas started making then decided he wouldn’t make enough profit off of it to make it worth-while? Doubtful. Other movies since Lucas has been talking about for years how tired he is of Star Wars and wants to make his artsy films again? Artsy films aren’t that expensive. The restoration of the original theatrical versions? Yeah right.
It’s all about having more of your money.
Bad Feeling 2: Cost
Save Star Wars 1: A New Hope was all about how Lucas said that restoring the original versions of the movies for the Blu-rays would cost too much. Now a few months later they’re saying that they can go through all 6 movies and make every frame 3D. At over 120 man-years of work for all 6, that’s going to be very expensive. Then rendering them out, then distributing the files, then advertising, we’re talking a few hundred million dollars at the very least.
But Lucas still says he doesn’t have the money to restore the originals. If you break it down, it averages that 8% of the original film was altered for the Special Edition. And that original film exists in an archive somewhere. Even if he wanted to do it on the cheap, they could find those original film elements, scan them only, then insert them into the rest of the scan, and release that in the same package. Then they wouldn’t have to spend more on advertising as its all in one package. If you can buy Under Siege 2 on Blu-ray, why not the Academy Award winning version of “Star Wars”? Oh yeah, because its too expensive.
Currently, 3D movies are around $13 a piece in my area. If my wife and I went to each movie, we’d be spending over $150 seeing each once. And I haven’t even considered the home video releases! I’m sure they’ll release each movie individually on 3D Blu-ray the years they come out (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), then in 2018 they’ll be a boxed set with bonus features that weren’t available on the individual releases, which equal even more money.
Bad Feeling 3: More Changes
“Star Wars” was released in 1977. Even in that year, there were two versions, the Stereo audio mix and the more complete Mono mix. Then in 1981 it was re-released with its “EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE” title, and a new first shot of the Star Destroyer going overhead with a different starfield and better compositing on the Star Destroyer. Then in 1997 the Special Edition was released, which had a hundred other changes not including audio changes. Then the 2004 DVD release had even more changes, with even more audio changes. The rumors are that the 2011 Blu-ray will redo the audio again, and I’m sure the image will be tampered with as well. I’m sure by 2015 Lucas will have found more things to tweak with “Star Wars”, which will create yet another version, none of which will be the one that won him the critical acclaim and awards.
I understand wanting to tweak things, but it will be almost 40 years old by then. Let’s just leave it alone, please. Save Star Wars