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Box Sets Just Got Complicated: Rights For 'Star Wars: A New Hope' Still Held By Fox

The Playlist By Charlie Schmidlin | The Playlist October 31, 2012 at 9:03AM

Amid yesterday's massive announcement that Disney handed over $4.05 billion to call LucasFilm their own, the immediate predictions of such a merger's result have established a firmly forward-looking perspective. However, that keen attitude toward the “Star Wars” franchise may have overlooked some past decisions of LucasFilm's that could come back to haunt Disney, as the two industry giants now face from Fox a bit of thorny issue of rights over the film that started it all.
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Star Wars: A New Hope Mark Hamill Carrie Fisher Harrison Ford

Amid yesterday's massive announcement that Disney handed over $4.05 billion to call LucasFilm their own, the immediate predictions of such a merger's result have established a firmly forward-looking perspective. However, that keen attitude toward the “Star Wars” franchise may have overlooked some past decisions of LucasFilm's that could come back to haunt Disney, as the two industry giants now face from Fox a bit of thorny issue of rights over the film that started it all.

"Disney is the perfect place,” explained a LucasFilm associate yesterday, following their press conference. ”At Fox they just make movies. Fox doesn't have theme parks and huge brands. This is a good fit." At this stage in George Lucas' career, it's obvious his intent matches this assessment, and it also points to why Fox was never even approached when LucasFilm was set to sell. But when it comes to the inevitable Blu-ray box set after the new trilogy hits theaters starting 2015, the recently realized fact that Fox retains distribution rights to the original “Star Wars” -- as well as theatrical, nontheatrical and home video rights worldwide for the others through 2020 -- will undoubtedly pose a bit of an issue.

Word from Fox has been quiet following the sale, but in this case the company can keep its silence while they reap the benefits of laying a blow to Disney's intensive home-video rollouts. The 3D versions of 'Attack of the Clones' and 'Revenge of the Sith' will still hit theaters next fall as planned via Fox, but as far as Lucas' hopes of keeping the “Star Wars” story contained on home video, it won't be until a deal is reached between Fox and Disney that any such option can exist. Or they can just wait -- rights for the film revert back to Disney in 2020.

Still, as far as the audience is concerned, 'A New Hope' will (hopefully) remain unchanged from its most recent Blu-ray release, but in the manner of everyone else surrounding the sale, we'll keep eyes trained instead on what surprises the next near-decade holds. [THR]

This article is related to: Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, 20th Century Fox


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