Star Wars: The Fandom Menace

We are rapidly approaching the 30th anniversary of the release of Star Wars to movie theaters in 1977. It is an important milestone, for movies, pop culture, and many of our own lives.

When Revenge of the Sith was released a couple years ago, completing the saga, there was a lot of talk about a possible re-release of Star Wars to theaters in 2007 in a special 3D format. The other five films were to follow at the rate of one a year.

I must be honest, the whole 3D thing didn’t really thrill me, but if that was the ticket to seeing Star Wars in the movie theater again, then I was all for it.

The attention of George Lucas soon shifted to the new Indiana Jones movie, though, and a full-length Clone Wars animated series. The Star Wars 3D release has been pushed to the backburner and likely will not happen for several years, if at all.

The loss here is not so much being able to see Star Wars in 3D, but being able to see Star Wars in its 30th anniversary year where it was meant to be seen: in a movie theater. Not just one showing in one city, but in wide release across the world.

Back in 1997, for the 20th anniversary year, all three films were re-released in “Special Edition” format and brought in shocking amounts of money at the box office. I will not debate the merits of the Special Edition changes here. Leaving out the changes, though, would not have affected the trilogy’s re-release revenue.

People love these movies, and would pay to go see them again and again whether or not they were changed. Though I might grumble a bit, I would be thrilled to be able to see even the 1997 version of Star Wars, the 2004 version of Star Wars, a 3D version of Star Wars, or any other version of Star Wars that Lucas would care to put together for a major re-release in May.

The “big announcement” of such an event just does not seem to be coming, though. It is looking more and more like the Star Wars 30th anniversary will focus instead on three events:

1.) Celebration IV: Kind of a Trekkie convention for Star Wars fans, taking place in May in Los Angeles. This will probably be a great event but most fans will not be there.

2.) The Star Wars US postage stamps: I have covered this a bit here on The Film Frontier, but this does not seem to have really inspired other fans all that much. A check of the vote tally reveals only about 128,000 votes cast so far. That is actually a surprisingly small number since the online poll has been open for nearly three weeks. There is still over a month to go, though, so perhaps there will be a strong surge near the end.

3.) The Force Unleashed: A Star Wars “event” spanning various media – a video game, a novel, action figures, etc. This is pretty much a replay of the Shadows of the Empire marketing campaign from back in 1996. There will probably be a graphic novel thrown in there, too. This one takes place between episodes III and IV. Shadows of the Empire never really did anything for me and I do not consider The Force Unleashed a suitable replacement for seeing Star Wars in theaters again.

The lackluster sales of last year’s release of Star Wars: Unaltered on DVD probably did little to help this cause, nor the cause of the long anticipated ultimate edition/complete saga DVD set. I still have a small bit of hope for that one, as Christmas 2007 DVDs have not been fully announced as of yet.

Lucasfilm is making a huge mistake by not pushing out some version of the original Star Wars to movie theaters this year, though. It would’ve been one of the top grossing movies of the year, I guarantee it.

Incidentally, for you bozos who boycotted the Star Wars: Unaltered DVD releases, you should do yourselves a favor and pick these up now. Thanks to your efforts, the DVDs are still available in many stores and at a reduced price. The picture and sound quality is not as bad as you have been led to believe. If you stayed away because of that, you were duped.

As for me, I’ll be watching the unaltered Star Wars on May 25. Unfortunately, it just won’t be in a movie theater. You can’t win ’em all.