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Fans Give George Lucas $84 Million Worth Of Reasons To Keep Messing With 'Star Wars'

by Oliver Lyttelton
September 23, 2011 12:56 PM
13 Comments
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Films Become Fastest-Ever Selling Blu-Rays



Fandom can be a wonderful thing, but, particularly now in the Twitter-lynch-mob age, it can be easy to rile fans up and get them to turn on those whom they used to love. Witness the outcry after the "Lost" finale -- barely a day goes by without co-creator Damon Lindelof getting shit from someone about it. And few fan-bases are more vociferous than the "Star Wars" lot. George Lucas' series turned the children of the 1970s, and so many since, on to cinema and science-fiction in a big way, and the prequels were perhaps the most anticipated films ever. Of course, they turned out to be a pale shadow of their predecessors, and ever since, Lucas' stock has shrunk steadily with those who once worshipped him.

Any delight that the complete set of films were coming out on Blu-Ray was swiftly tempered by the revelation -- if revelation is the right word for something that was probably inevitable all along -- that Lucas has made further changes to the films, to follow the major changes that came with the Special Editions in 1997, and the smaller alterations that came with the DVD release that followed. The most controversial was an ADR call back to "Revenge of the Sith" at the end of the "Return of the Jedi," along with a new CGI Yoda in "The Phantom Menace" and many others; as a result, fans began to call for a boycott, furious at the continuing changes to the films they originally fell in love with. Had Lucas finally gone too far?

Apparently not. The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that the Blu-Ray set, priced at a hefty $140, has become the highest-selling release in the format to date since it hit stores last Friday, selling 515,000 units in the U.S. alone, and taking in $84 million worldwide. Given that Blu-Ray has never really broken through as a mass-market format, and the not inconsiderable pricetag, we've got to assume that the vast majority of those sales come from the thirty/fortysomething geeks who grew up with the series, and quite a few who had brayed loudly and publicly about their displeasure with Lucas' tinkering.

And this is the thing. Lucas knows he can make these changes because he knows that for the most part, the threats that people won't buy them are empty ones. The completists, the hardcore fans, are always going to buy the thing, because they want to see the films in the best possible format, and because they're loaded up with deleted scenes and other curios. Even if he alienates some fans, all he has to do is release the "original" films untouched down the line (as he did on DVD in 2008, though fans are still crying for the theatrical versions) and they'll line up around the block for it.

So here's the rub; Lucas is going to keep making these changes (here's a sobering list of what he's done so far), and keep trying to wring every penny out of his creation (is it any surprise Lucas is bringing all six films back to theaters in 3D?). This urge to revisit may partly be an understandable thing for a filmmaker to want to do -- as someone once said, films aren't finished, they're abandoned, and every director is haunted by what could have been. But it's also partly that fucking around with "Star Wars" is all that Lucas knows how to do any more; he's somehow unable to move on. Not unlike his fanbase, strangely enough...

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13 Comments

  • Mark | October 26, 2011 11:11 AMReply

    "J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek is proof of Trek’s superiority over Star Wars."



    LOL

  • Scarface | October 6, 2011 10:43 AMReply

    The fan base is not happy. They are disappointed. I for one will not be getting in line to see the 3D films starting next year.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AAvAnI9Bwg

  • goldfarb | September 24, 2011 8:59 AMReply

    the CG Yoda in TPM isn't 'new' it was done in between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith...

  • rodie | September 23, 2011 9:35 AMReply

    The only hope for Star Wars at this point is that after Lucas dies his kids take control of the franchise and put it in the hands of some quality writers and directors who can make new films.

    1) A new trilogy set 50+ years after ROTJ, with Luke as the wise old Jedi and only R2, 3P0 and maybe Chewbacca still alive to face a new threat. Luke's arc would really be completed by showing him as the "master" able to train and foster a new generation of Jedi in the way that Yoda and Obi-Wan obviously failed in many ways to do.

    2) A stand-alone film-noir-in-space Boba Fett action movie.

  • rodie | September 23, 2011 9:19 AMReply

    The most ass-backwards thing about these changes is that Lucas is changing the wrong films!

    Other than a CGI Yoda in TPM, he's pretty much left the prequels alone on Blu-Ray, but he keeps tinkering and fucking up the original trilogy. If he has a jones for changing his own films, dear God, George please turn your attention to the prequels.

    How about recutting TPM without Jar Jar Binks? How about cutting out or adding new ADR and cutaways to some of young Anakin's painful dialogue. How about shooting some actual clonetroopers with real actors in REAL costumes instead of all of them, even in close-ups, being CGI??? That was the most unnecessary use of CGI ever.

  • scribe | September 23, 2011 8:24 AMReply

    The most profitable circle jerk in history!

  • J Bone | September 23, 2011 5:30 AMReply

    @William Shatner

    I like the new Star Trek, but there isn't one single star trek film better than Empire or Star Wars. The last Star Trek is on the level of Return of the Jedi.

    Now imagine if Abrams or pick another new gen director were able to write and direct their own Star Wars film. A Boba Fett movie or a movie that shows the origin of the Sith. That movie would kick the living crap out of any Star Trek reboot.

  • hank | September 23, 2011 5:29 AMReply

    It is a bit of a shame that Lucas can't seem to let go of these films. It seems like he's been reaching for some kind of perfection in them that will never be obtained, and only lessen the impact they initially had. However, I doubt it's because of money, or "wringing as many pennies" out of the films as he can, as so many have said. Lucas is one of 40 or so millionaires/billionaires who has pledged to give away the majority of his wealth in his lifetime. (http://givingpledge.org/)
    All around, it's kind of baffling. Does he have no other ideas?

  • Erik McClanahan | September 23, 2011 3:20 AMReply

    Corey, I had a similar experience years ago. It's so distracting. The worst offender has to be that musical sequence in Return of the Jedi. Holy shit is that terrible (and it ruins what was already a cool bar/club sequence; the original music had a canteena band feel to it), with all those dancing CGI things. If nothing else, those special editions were the harbinger of things to come in the prequels.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | September 23, 2011 3:14 AMReply

    I only bought the Star Wars special edition VHS versions when I was much younger. Since then, I just didn't care anymore.

  • Cory Everett | September 23, 2011 3:09 AMReply

    Happy to admit that I didn't buy these and wont unless they're the originals.

    The changes had never bothered me before but I hadn't seen them in a few years and I tried rewatching the series around Christmas and couldn't believe how distracting the CGI was. Every single bit stuck out to the point of actually ruining the experience.

  • The Playlist | September 23, 2011 2:50 AMReply

    A-fucking-men, Oli. Nice piece, well said.

  • William Shatner | September 23, 2011 1:27 AMReply

    Star Trek is better than Star Wars. Star Wars is derivative of Star Trek and while Trek is about relationships and stories that involved humanity and philosophical questions, Star Wars is about special effects. J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek is proof of Trek’s superiority over Star Wars, because not only does Star Trek deal with more human principles but it now has more special effects than Star Wars, so Star Wars has nothing to stand on.

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