Hardly a month goes by where there isn’t a rumor making the rounds that an unaltered theatrical cut of the Original Trilogy is finally coming to Blu-ray before being quickly shot down by Disney and/or Lucasfilm. It’s a seemingly endless cycle of false hope and harsh reality.
There are several key reasons why Lucasfilm should release the “real” Original Trilogy on Blu-ray, but before we explore them, there are a few caveats. First off, 20th Century Fox currently owns the theatrical and home video distribution rights to Episodes I–III, V, and VI until May 2020, with permanent possession of the rights to Episode IV, so this is assuming the two studios can come to some sort of deal (a la Sony and Marvel’s shared rights over Spider-Man). Secondly, the word “unaltered” is being used a bit loosely. Obviously, remastering films from the ‘70s and ‘80s in high-definition requires alterations, so consider “unaltered” to simply mean a remastered version of the theatrical cut.
Alright, now that we’re all on the same page, here are 5 reasons why Lucasfilm needs to release the unaltered theatrical cut of the Original Trilogy on Blu-ray:
To Withhold The Original Cut Is To Encourage Piracy And Enable Pettiness
Some might say it’s cheap to argue that by restricting access to something, you’re only encouraging people to obtain it illicitly, but tell that to the speakeasy operators and bathtub gin brewers of the Prohibition days. The simple fact is that many fans aren’t above resorting to legally dubious methods (i.e. piracy) if it’s the only way they can watch the unaltered cut of the Original Trilogy, especially considering the only reason it’s not widely available is because of George Lucas’ pettiness. Make no mistake; the man is a true visionary, but to deny fans access to something they cherished growing up just because it’s not the version you like, even though it’s the version you felt comfortable releasing in theaters in the first place, is the act of a petty individual.Advertisement
It’s Nice To Have Options
Just because fans want to be able to watch the unaltered theatrical cut of the original trilogy in crisp, clear 1080p (or even 4K) doesn’t mean that none of them want to see the versions with Lucas’ various revisions, as well. In fact, for every 100 fans that demand the theatrical cut, there’s probably 100 more that are perfectly happy with – or even prefer – the updated CGI, additional lines of dialogue, and Greedo shooting first (hey, to each his own). The point is, it’d be nice to have the option to watch the unaltered version of the trilogy for those that prefer it.
Fans Yearn For The Versions They Saw In Theaters When They Were Young
Why are diehard Star Wars fans so hung up on getting an unaltered cut of the Original Trilogy on Blu-ray? It’s simple – they just want to be able to enjoy the versions of the films they saw in the theaters as children, but in a manner that capitalizes on the outstanding capabilities of modern technology. They want to scratch that nostalgic itch, and aside from worn out VHS copies and the 2006 bonus DVDs (poor laserdisc transfers that weren’t formatted for widescreen TVs), there’s no reasonable/legal way to do it. We live in a world where nearly every R-rated film can be purchased in either the theatrical or unrated cut; a world where you can purchase five different versions of Blade Runner on Blu-ray; a world where you can purchase either the theatrical or extended cut of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That being said, it makes no sense that fans aren’t able to see the Original Trilogy of one of the most influential film franchises of all time in its original incarnation.
It’s A Guaranteed Cash Cow
Do Disney and Lucasfilm not like money? It sure seems like they do, considering they’re moving all of their content to an exclusive streaming service in 2019. So why, then, are they seemingly not interested in offering something there’s already a massive demand for? In 2011, when Episodes I-VI were released on Blu-ray (sans the unaltered cut of the Original Trilogy), it sold more than one million units after only a week on the market, shattering records for the high-definition format and generating more than $84 million in worldwide sales. Obviously, those sales include purchases made by casual fans of the franchise, and while an unaltered cut of the Original Trilogy would appeal more so to hardcore fans, Disney/Lucasfilm could still generate a pretty massive payday.
It Would Finally Silence Angry, Nostalgic Fans
As much as Star Wars purists are hard-pressed on getting a Blu-ray copy of the unaltered Original Trilogy, they’re also sick and tired of hearing other fans beg for it – perhaps just as much as the people who could care less which version of the films they watch. Before infighting destroys Star Wars fans like it nearly did to the Sith, to put an end to the in incessant pleas once and for all, Lucasfilm should bite the bullet and find a way to release the unaltered theatrical cut of the Original Trilogy on Blu-ray.