My Two Cents
Friday, 24 February 2017 03:00

A last (definitive) original Star Wars update for a while, plus Rogue One pre-orders & release news

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All right, first things first today: We have a quick bit of follow-up for you this morning on those annual original Star Wars release rumors, the latest appearance of which caused a bit of a stir yesterday (and which we commented on in yesterday’s post). I know... we’re getting tired of talking about it too, but we have what seems to be rather definitive new information.

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. (There’s more info, so do continue on past the jump.) [Read on here…]

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In addition, 20th Century Fox’s Senior Vice President of Library and Technical Services, Shawn Belston, was also on hand at the Wexner event last night. He confirmed that all of the “trims” removed from the original cut negative (in the mid-1990s, to create the SEs) still exist as well. (Thanks to Bits reader Chuck P., who attended this event, for his firsthand report.) So what does all that mean to you?

In summary: When George Lucas says that the original Star Wars no longer exists, it’s a little like Obi-Wan telling Luke that Darth Vader killed his father; he’s speaking truthfully… from a certain point of view. From any other point of view, however, it’s silliness. The point is, while it is essentially technically true that the ‘77 cut negative “no longer exists” in its original state, it is also technically true that it could be re-built if so desired. All of the needed film elements still survive and have been preserved. Original Star Wars still exists and could be re-released on disc and in theaters, if the will to do so was there. Nevertheless, if one takes Gluck and Belston at their word (and knowing them as we do, we certainly do) this would seem to be fairly official word that no such reconstruction work has been done to date. Thus, it appears that there is little chance of the original 1977 Star Wars being released on any home video format in 2017.

Meanwhile, however, we also know (from checking in again with our sources yesterday) that original high-quality prints of the theatrical editions continue to exist in various film archives around the world, as well as in the hands of private collectors. So… the Saga continues. In the meantime, as we said yesterday, Harmy’s Star Wars Despecialized Editions are out there in the digital ether of the Interwebs in 720p HD and are well worth the effort needed to track them down (you can learn everything you need to do so here and here).

FYI, a couple of other bits of interesting information that Chuck passed on to us from last night’s Wexler event: About 100 of the 400 or so classic Disney animated shorts have been scanned in 4K (at Warner) and restored. Also, new 4K restoration work has been done on Disney’s Song of the South to fix certain shots previously out of alignment (because of a faulty camera used during the original photography), though no public release is currently planned. Fascinating.

All right, we had a couple of other things planned to go up in today’s post, but given the need to dig in and get to the bottom of this Star Wars story, the original plan for today’s column fell by the wayside. We’ll post that stuff on Monday instead.

In other (announcement) news today, Acorn Media has set Humans: Series 2 for Blu-ray and DVD release on 10/31. The season is currently being broadcast in the U.S. on AMC and it’s pretty good, more cerebral and straightforward than HBO’s Westworld but covering similar ground.

Warner Bros. has set The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Eighth and Final Season for Blu-ray and DVD release on 6/13 (SRP $44.98 and $39.99). A box set of The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Series (Seasons 1-8) will also be released that day on Blu-ray and DVD (SRP $234.99 and $189.99). On the animated front, Warner has set Vixen: The Movie for Blu-ray release on 5/23. And Warner and TNT have set The Last Ship: The Complete Third Season for Blu-ray release on 5/2 (SRP $39.99).

Arrow Video has announced a 3-disc Evil Ed: Limited Edition for Blu-ray release on 5/30. Also coming from Arrow Academy on that day is George Franju’s Spotlight on a Murderer: Special Edition. Due on 5/16 from Arrow Video is Pasquale Squitieri’s The Climber: Special Edition. And on 5/9, look for their Brain Damage: Special Edition. SRP for each is $39.95.

Kino Lorber has added Alfred Hitchcock’s The Paradine Case (1947) to its list of Studio Classics “coming soon” to Blu-ray and DVD.

Finally today, in 4K news, sources are telling us that Sony is quietly planning a 40th Anniversary release of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind for later this year, likely to include 4K Ultra HD. And again, David Lean’s The Bridge on the River Kwai is planned for release in 4K later this year too.

Retail sources are also now telling us to expect Logan, Life, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Dunkirk, Blade Runner: 2049, and the new live action Ghost in the Shell to arrive on the 4K format this year, following their theatrical release in the months ahead.

And that’s all for now. We’ll leave you with a look at the cover artwork for Lionsgate’s 3:10 to Yuma, The Expendables, and The Expendables 2 in 4K, all of which are now available for pre-order on Amazon…

3:10 to Yuma (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray) The Expendables (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray) The Expendables 2 (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)

We also now have official Target and Best Buy pre-order links (click on the images below) for their respective retail-exclusive versions of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Target exclusive Blu-ray)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Best Buy exclusive Blu-ray)

Have a great weekend!

- Bill Hunt


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