Back in 2012 when Disney bought Lucasfilm for a gazillion dollars and announced that more Star Wars movies were on the way, one of the many questions on fans’ lips was whether they would re-release the theatrical cuts of the Original Trilogy. Everybody knows that they’re all but unavailable, thanks to George Lucas’ constant tinkering over the years and creating new, crappier versions; from Force Ghost Hayden Christensen to Darth Vader screaming ‘NOOOOO!’ when throwing the Emperor off the bridge, the changes are largely unnecessary. Fortunately, it seems as if we won’t have to put up with those versions much longer.
At a Q&A tonight John Landis dropped that Disney are finally going to re-release the theatrical cuts of the original Star Wars trilogy.
— Empire Magazine (@empiremagazine) September 19, 2015
Apparently George mentioned it when last they spoke. Somebody put Yub Nub on. Let the celebrations commence! — Empire Magazine (@empiremagazine) September 19, 2015
So, this is a little odd.
John Landis, dad of Max Landis, is good friends with George Lucas (he offered him the director’s chair for Howard the Duck back in the 80’s – good move to say no, John), so is stands to reason that Lucas could have let it slip to him and Landis subsequently did the same. Empire themselves are a huge film magazine here in the UK, most recently conducting an interesting interview with J.J. Abrams regarding The Force Awakens. Could it really be happening?
Rumours have flown back and forth over the years and the response has always been, “it’s not happening.” Disney have really been trying to push the Prequels out of people’s minds by focusing pretty much all new content on the Original Trilogy and beyond – which has certainly pleased a lot of people – so it makes sense that they would want to build on that goodwill with a re-release of what everybody originally fell in love with. There are a few little niggling details, however.
While Disney owns Lucasfilm and the rights to the Star Wars universe, 20th Century Fox still own the rights to the movies themselves. The Prequel Trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are their’s until May 2020, however the rights to A New Hope are their’s for all eternity. Depressing, right? Relations between the studios aren’t exactly peachy either; in fact, there’s a hell of a lot of hostility. A lot of it is simply because they’re both massive media corporations and a rivalry will obviously come into play, however it’s also to do with Marvel. Fox will never give up the X-Men or Fantastic Four rights (they’re STILL working on a sequel…) and haven’t played ball with Marvel over the years, so in retaliation those teams have been all but nullified in the comics lately. It’s a big and messy situation that we don’t need to go into right now.
There are two possibilities here.
- John Landis misspoke; in actuality Lucas just told him that Disney WANTED to re-release the theatrical cuts, or that they’re working towards it.
- Disney and Fox have had a big sit-down and worked out a big deal that will solve all the messiness with Fantastic Four, X-Men and Star Wars, making fans very happy bunnies.
It pains me to say it, but I think the first is more likely. I would absolutely love to be wrong, but Fox are so difficult to work with that they may be commanding too high a price or a much more favourable slice of the deal for Disney to agree to it. However, if there’s one company that has the negotiation skills of the gods, it’s Disney.
For now, let’s call it a rumour. Disney almost certainly want this to happen, and there isn’t a better time to get it done than before the release of The Force Awakens. If they are working on it, then they’ll be doing it tirelessly for us. And money. A theatrical or home video re-release of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi would make so much money.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out December 18th.