And the more I think about it, the more I realize what a clusterfark this whole thing has been.
Here’s the first problem. Apparently Fox still holds distribution rights to the six existing Star Wars films and will until 2020. (It’s sort of referred to in this TFN item about Clone Wars possibly moving to Disney XD next fall.) For some reason this was not worked out in Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm. Could it be that Fox doesn’t want to re-release films it no longer has long-term investment? Could it be that Disney pressured Lucasfilm into cancelling the re-release, because it now wants people to think of Star Wars as a Disney brand?
Here’s the second problem. 3D re-releases haven’t been doing as well lately. “The Little Mermaid 3D” was just taken off Disney’s schedule because “Monsters 3D” didn’t perform as expected. Could it be all parties thought it wasn’t worth the expense and effort? Well, what does that mean for plans of releasing Episode VII in 3D?
The next problem is this business about having to focus on making Episode VII. As one commenter put it, are they going to shut down Clone Wars and not do effects on other movies for the next two years because all hands must be on deck to make Episode VII? He also pointed out that most of the conversion work is being done out of house anyway (although I remember that a couple of guys at ILM were also in on the process). The real issue may not be so much AOTC and ROTS but simply not having the time and resources to start the conversion process on Eps IV-VI. I can’t imagine they would just put out the prequels and not the other movies prior to Episode VII’s release.
Whatever the reasons are, I don’t think we got the truth in that short press release. Why? If George Lucas knew a year ago he was planning to sell to Disney and if many of the key players at Lucasfilm knew since June 2012 they were going to work on new movies, why bother with converting AOTC and ROTS, then promoting them at Celebration VI? Why weren’t any of the legal kinks worked out with the Disney deal? They had packaging ready to go, they had merchandise ready to go, they had promotional partnerships ready to go. Now it’s all abruptly flushed down the toilet.
And they blew a great opportunity. The Special Editions, released just two years prior to TPM, made a lot of money in 1997. People were excited because a new movie was around the corner. It was a time to celebrate Star Wars and to get ready for more. When TPM 3D came out a year ago, there were no known plans for more movies. Joe and Jane Sixpack are interested in Star Wars again. What better way to introduce a new generation to the joys of seeing Star Wars in the theater instead of just waiting for Episode VII on Blu-Ray? It was a penny wise pound foolish decision.
I have no idea when we’ll see these movies re-released. It could be whenever Disney acquires distribution rights…maybe as late as 2021. It’s probably going to be never. With a new trilogy beginning in 2015 or whenever (supposedly Abrams hasn’t committed to a 2015 deadline), and new spinoff movies every 2-3 years after that, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time open on the release schedule, does it?
I didn’t think it would only take three months to shake whatever confidence I had in the future of Star Wars in light of Disney’s acquisition and it was very shaky to begin with.