Further Thoughts On 3D-Gate

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.

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28 Responses to “Further Thoughts On 3D-Gate”

  1. Hunk a Junk Says:

    Right. This “we need to focus 100 percent on Ep VII” excuse falls apart the moment anyone with half a brain starts to think about it. It’s PR malpractice and a worrisome indication of what Disney thinks of the fans. “Tell them we just need to focus on the new movie. Those kids will buy that and it will make it seem like we really want the new movie to be good! Win-win!” Guys, jeez-us, TRY HARDER. Be honest. Give us the straight dope. If its a legal issue, just admit it! We’ll understand. This was a major merger. There are bound to be problems. We get it. Or if it’s a matter of money, explain to us why releasing the 3D conversion aren’t a good business decision. But DON’T INSULT OUR INTELLIGENCE with this “100 percent” crappola when it’s clearly a LIE. Your director is busy for the next four months, you’re not shutting down Lucasfilm Animation or the book division or ILM or any number of other projects, so quit BSing around and admit what’s really going on. Ugh.

  2. adambadadam Says:

    I think your first paragraph nails it…there isn’t enough $$$ in it for Fox to do wind up the hype machine and give free advertising for future SW movies, when they won’t be seeing any financial return and could in fact compete with their own studio releases in 2015/2016. I would be interested to know who pulled the plug on this. Was it Fox, Disney or Lucasfilm??? Either way, this is to be a legal mess for sure and not likely to get sorted out for some time. I wouldn’t hold my breath for that “further announcement at a later date”.

  3. adambadadam Says:

    On a positive note…or my gleefully snider-side, if it takes a legal eternity to see the Prequels re-released in 3D, I hope the “haters” don’t kid themselves into thinking they’re going to get their precious “Unaltered-Original Trilogy” any sooner. If I was George, I’d take those to grave with me just out of spite.

  4. adambadadam Says:

    …but then again I’m not George

    He has the mark of a great man…

    …me, I’m just alright 😉

  5. Sreya Says:

    I don’t know, you’d think Fox would want to milk Star Wars for everything they could get until 2020. But then, that’s why I’m not an economist. No matter what reasons, I’m sorely disappointed.

  6. Hunk a Junk Says:

    Being gracious and assuming this PR report is true, at a minimum we won’t be seeing 3D conversions until 2016 at the earliest. The new movie comes out (if all goes perfectly) in 2015 and Disney will want to milk that exclusively for at least a year in theaters and on home video. But then, won’t they need to postpone again to focus 100 percent on Episode VIII? You know, because they care so much about the fans? I mean, wouldn’t releasing the conversions at that point mean they WEREN’T putting 100 percent into the other sequels? It’s probably just a coincidence that it will be at least 2020 when all three sequels are finished and — viola! — the Fox distribution contract is up. Why, it’s almost as if there’s a plan…

    • lazypadawan Says:

      Heh heh, you might be on to something.

    • jedinews2010 Says:

      I think your logic is strong there. Fox may have number crunched and realise there’s not enough profit in releasing them and instead do what they did with Daredevil and let the rights revert to Disney. Not like there isnt a precedent.

  7. Bob Clark Says:

    I’ll say again– I really hope that I-VI can find new life in the art-house distribution circuit. It’s a really long shot, and it might be hell roping some of the trendier theaters out there to exhibit the Prequels alongside the OT (hell, it would be a climb getting them to screen ROTJ and not just run ANH and ESB on an infinite loop), but there’s more and more of a market for retrospectives of kid-friendly cinema. Look at the touring Studio Ghibli screenings that started at the IFC Center in New York. Disney’s close with Ghibli, so I’d say whenever they get the rights to the films, it’s something they could consider (by that point rereleases may be an exclusively niche thing to begin with– TPM-3D did as good as any rerelease could’ve done on a wide scale in this market). I say lease episodes I-VI to GKids and let them tour the country in those smaller theaters, and let a new generation experience “Star Wars” as art-films.

    • lazypadawan Says:

      The Arclight chain–which for now consists of the L.A. area, LaJolla (San Diego), and next year Chicago–routinely shows classic films alongside current releases. I’m hoping they’ll get special dispensation from somebody to do a Star Wars marathon just as Episode VII comes out.

  8. jedinews2010 Says:

    There is a precedent for this cancellation – the live action show, which reportedly had sets and costumes built and got cancelled overnight.
    I am disappointed by this, not purely because its another prequel issue (Disney clearly wants the ongoing focus to be OT/ST not PT) but because it was anothrr big Star Wars event on the horizon that we were all looking forward to, giving us SW films in 4 consecutive years (2012 TPM, 2013 AOTC & ROTS, 2014 ANH & ESB, 2015 ROTJ & EP7). And with all the interest in SW it could have brought plenty of people to the box office.
    That said, in the lazy media its been a great chance to ‘prequel bash’ once again. Perhaps that gave LFL/Fox/Disney cold feet.
    Very excited about JJ but it seems already his arrival has put Ep 7 back at least 6 months and (perhaps coincidentally) caused this postponement. An announcement about these films would be appreciated as agree, I cant see Eps 4-6 being postponed.
    Bottom line, this is all designed to make Ep 7-9 the best JJ can make them and lets remember, 3 months ago we had no idea there were more films coming. In time we will look back and I’m confident this will make sense, but right now this is a touch deflating, and as the Champion of the Prequel Era I can understand your frustration..

  9. Louis Ghanem (@lgghanem) Says:

    I’m hoping this has more to do with Fox vs Disney than with prequel persecution. That’s the only thing keeping me from getting pissed off at this point. It’s obvious they lied outright when they claimed it was “postponed” to “focus on Episode VII”, but the real reason isn’t necessarily prequel hate.
    The thing is, as many have said, Fox still have distribution rights to Episodes I-VI until 2020. But why would they re-release these movies that are clearly now meant to hype up the Sequel Trilogy, which they won’t profit from? It’s not like the 3D re-release itself will make them that much money; 3D re-releases in general aren’t proving to be profitable–everyone’s canceling them left right and center (The Little Mermaid comes to mind). And, of course, sadly enough the prequels don’t have as much love as they’d like, which makes them all the more tentative and fearful.
    I may not like it, but, well, this decision sort of makes sense. I just wish they’d had the foresight to not waste so much of our and their time on this–actually releasing TPM, working on AotC and RotS, promising a release date, etc…

    • Hunk a Junk Says:

      Whether or not this is actual prequel persecution on the part of Disney, unfortunately, is no longer the issue. Prequel blame is how the decision is being conveyed in articles in places like Huffingtonpost.com. The media is not buying the “postponing” PR and are running with the “Episode One bombed (it didn’t) and Disney is cutting it’s losses (they aren’t)” meme. Read through the comments on these articles and it’s hateboy after hateboy crowing, “See? This just proves how much the prequels suck!” and “No one was going to go to these anyway.” What’s worse is that LFL/Disney is unlikely to put out another release clarifying that 3D conversions of the remaining films WILL be done eventually, so this meme will metastasize and become conventional wisdom. So the prequel persecution question is moot — the prequels have been dismissed to the vault for at least the next decade and the hateboys are claiming victory.

      LFL/Disney must explain to people what’s really going on because we all know that AOTC 3D is near finished or already in the can. They must explain why 3D work being done by Prime Focus in India has any effect whatsoever on preproduction of a new film being made in the U.S. that won’t start shooting until late fall at the earliest. LFL should just be straight with the fans and say “there are still contractual obligations to resolve involving the sale of LFL to Disney and, unfortunately, this means an embargo on the existing Star Wars films for the forseeable future. Rest assured, however, that 3D conversions of the existing Star Wars films WILL happen once these legal issues are resolved and we look forward to ALL fans of the Star Wars saga enjoying these classic films on the big screen again.”

      Until then, the hateboys have won. Again. Why LFL continues to show preference to the worst of their fans is beyond me.

      • Louis Ghanem (@lgghanem) Says:

        You are, of course, very right. One need only spare a glance at Gizmodo’s “article” (“Lucasfilm Kills 3D Star Wars Re-Releases After Realizing It’s Horrible and Everyone Hates It”) to know how the Internet perceives this news. People will always assume what they want to believe, and that’s always been the case. And with the Star Wars prequels, well, people will always jump on any excuse to bash, whine, complain, rinse, and repeat, and it’s getting quite tiring. But my comment was meant to address everyone who quickly blamed Disney of intentionally screwing over the prequels and their fans, and, as a result, losing faith in the Sequel Trilogy. Of course, we don’t know Disney’s true intent or views towards the prequels, but it’s best not to assume the worst, especially not with a new trilogy on the horizon.
        LFL and Disney should explain what’s going on, I agree, but they won’t. It’s better for them to say “Oh we’re just focusing on Episode VII, that’s all! (Also, can you spell ‘gullible’ by any chance?)” than admit that the transition from Fox hasn’t been as smooth as they’d have us believe. And even if they did admit that, the hateboys would call them liars trying to save face and assume it’s because the prequels “suck” anyway. We can’t win against their stubbornness.
        Like you, I do find it sad that LFL seem to favor the hateboys. In a perfect world LFL would support the fans who stuck by them, rather than those who’ve complained about and often insulted them and Lucas. But in this world, the hateboys are the majority, and the majority generate word of mouth, which in turn translates to money, to put it bluntly. So it’s more profitable to appease them. I just hope Disney manage to do that while still sticking by and supporting Lucas’s past decisions, something he did even as he took people’s insults when he was still in charge.

  10. PrinceOfNaboo Says:

    I think that’s just what it means to be Disney now.

    Disney is a corporation trying to please shareholders and add value. Whatever is not 100% profitable for them (whether having to share earnings with FOX or not enough expected ROI from AOTC’ and ROTS’ re-releases) will be abandoned.

    And it still hurts to see Star Wars getting “mainstreamed”, if you want. With Episodes I – VI, you could clearly see it came from the mind of the artist George Lucas. Yes, he hired co-writers and directors at times, but he was stil alwaysl the man in charge, the showrunner (as you know it from television).

    Now Disney hires and hires people (Arndt, Abrams, Kasdan, Kinberg etc.) to ensure Episode VII will pleases the loud voices. Who is the lead artist behind Episode VII?

    In some way it makes me happy that there is no real artist behind Episode VII, but that also just reminds me why I didn’t want to see a new Star Wars films without George Lucas’ lead in the first place.

    • obi-rob-kenobi Says:

      Well Said!!!!

      You just made me really realize it….

      Star Wars Episode 7 DOESN’T HAVE A LEAD ARTIST BEHIND IT!

      There is no vision. There is no purpose. There is no direction it is moving in. Its just a machine now. Random and lazy. Trying to please shareholders, make profit and appease loud voices so they can sell more.

      It’s funny because even the hateboys are going to start to realize this as the years go on. The backlash Episode 7 is going to get (NO MATTER WHAT) when it comes out is going to make the post 1999 hateboy movement look like NOTHING compared to the REAL ACTUAL letdown Episode 7 is going to be!!!

      Its actually VERY ironic when you think about it. KARMA IS A BITCH.

      I cant WAIT to sit back and watch them all go bat**** crazy. Its going to be so sweet. The worst generation was the one that gets the kick in the ass! Good! F*** em! My generation LOVED OUR Star Wars films. OUR Star Wars films were done by George Lucas himself and he was always passionate about them. And always had a clear plan for them with a planned end point. A finish line. Ya know A purpose! HA! Oh yes karma is a bitch and justice is sweet. THIS is how TRUE SW fans will get the justice they deserve to sit back and see. We get to sit back and watch this new generation FALL APART into the crap that they are. Its what they deserve.

      What’s that? You want to take SW away from the artist who created it so bad? Yea? Ok! Here ya go. Now crash and burn like the rats that you are.

      Now I know why Episode 7 is coming out so fast! Its not because they have some sort of advanced technologies or plan. Its because THE FILM IS BEING RUSHED OUT IN TWO YEARS! HA!

      Episode 1 took 6 YEARS to make from beginning to end! Episode 7? 2 years. Yup. 2 years. Announced in 2013 and released in 2015. THATS IT! LMAO! ROFL!

      You sneaky, smug little hateboy coc*****ers want Harrison Fords FACE so bad? Here have it. In a movie that took 2 years to spit out. It will probably have more cgi than TRON! So enjoy that too. So now you can turn on each other and get into endless, pointless, pathetic bloodwars over which incarnation of his f***ing face is better like you did when he returned to the Indiana Jones franchise! Again, GOTTA LOVE THAT KARMA!

      Oh yes, there will be blood, and I cannot wait! I will lick their f***ing tears before putting my feet up in my lazy boy and watching George Lucas’s Six Episode Star Wars Saga on blu-ray.

      Because remember, when George Lucas retired. Star Wars retired with him. And when he dies he will be know for HIS 6 films that HE was the lead artist on for 30 years.

      Oh yes, we have lost battles here and there but we won the war!

      Edited for language.

      • lazypadawan Says:

        Here’s the thing…I don’t want Episode VII to fail. The question of who’s the lead artist here is a valid one and I have a feeling that if it’s not quite gelling together, they’re going to have to beg, plead, and cajole Lucas into a more active role. Abrams has not committed to a 2015 date and if he feels that he can’t do the film justice in just two years, I’ll be the first one to insist they give him more time. As I told a friend privately, I don’t want to be a basher. I don’t want to turn against Star Wars.

        No matter what, no matter how “safe” they try to be with this movie, they are still up against astronomical expectations. They have to make the entire fanbase happy (ha!), entertain casual fans and regular moviegoers, and draw in new fans at the same time. I laugh at people who think this is going to be just like the OT. It’ll feel closer in some ways I think but you can’t sell 1980s special effects and pacing to the generation weaned on X-Box, YouTube, and Twitter either. Lucas once described this end of the story as “ethereal,” which can be translated to “weird.” And no matter what it won’t have that same lightning-in-a-bottle magic ANH had in 1977. The real collision course from hell is with the expanded universe. There’s almost no way this movie won’t back up over the entire run of post-ROTJ novels to some degree. This is the fandom that went bananas because Clone Wars killed off Evan Piell in a different way than in some book.

        Mazel tov, Mr. Abrams. You’re gonna need it.

    • Louis Ghanem (@lgghanem) Says:

      I have to say, I agree with you. Or rather… I don’t want to agree, and I’m not sure I do, but I have a nagging fear about it. I mean… Everything up to this point about Episode VII has been a safe choice.
      “Oh, what’s that, Internet? Your favorite Star Wars is Empire Strikes Back? You wish George Lucas would relinquish his writer/director position? Oh by all means, let’s give that a try!” Michael Arndt is very very good at his job. But he wasn’t hired because of his vision and his ideas, he was hired because of his talent, so no way could the fans whine about the dialogue of the sequels like they did the prequels. He’s a safe choice. A good writer who gave Disney a memorable threequel with Toy Story 3. “Oh, what’s that you said about Empire Strikes Back? Lawrence Kasdan was a great Star Wars writer? Well, hey, let’s bring him back as a consultant! Now it’s time to hire a director. Hmm, it seems the internet vastly prefers either Brad Bird or J. J. Abrams. Brad Bird’s busy. Abrams? Oh man, did you see that Star Trek film? Get him on board! He can be our Brett-Ratner-if-Brett-Ratner-were-a-good-director guy!”
      And the result? There won’t be anything horrible about it, it’ll look like one of the ‘good’ Star Wars movies, but it will lack a certain special ingredient. And you know what? That is exactly the result of “fan” demand. This is what whiners and bashers and trolls and haters and even casual Star Wars fans who hate the prequels based on nothing but word of mouth, this is exactly what they wanted–or what they thought they wanted. And they get a result that’s just “decent”. “Adequate”. A solid 8/10. Congratulations, you dug your own bloody grave, now don’t you dare complain about it.

      But that’s just my worst case scenario, my greatest fear. I’d be perfectly happy with a “decent” Star Wars film, but even if one thinks the prequels had shaky execution, they had originality and flair and memorability about them. If the Sequel Trilogy goes the way indicated above… meh.

      However, my optimistic best case scenario is: Disney, Lucasfilm, Kathy Kennedy, Abrams, Arndt, Kasdan, all want to make a great Star Wars film. They are really giving it their best effort. A script by an Oscar winner, supervised by the man who wrote the best Star Wars, run by a woman Lucas trusts, directed by a brilliant and dependable director. And honestly, I’m inclined to believe this scenario. You want to know why? Because George Lucas. Because they’re working off the story treatment he wrote. Because he’s the consultant and ultimately their bible. Because he picked Abrams and already sat down and met with him and will do so many times again. Because he’s the stubborn still-indie-at-heart artist who refuses to release the unaltered original trilogy because who cares about the the haters, that’s why. And you can bet he’s godfathering the Sequel Trilogy, so they won’t turn it into a “screw post-1997 George Lucas” hateboy tribute. He’s the anomaly in this would-be-perfect hateboy scenario, and God bless him, I love him for that. I just hope he’ll exercise his veto rights and all.

      Realistic scenario? Obviously a mixture of the two. My prediction: Episode VII will be a “safe” but ultimately good Star Wars movie, that follows the formula of the OT and tries to please all the fans as much as possible without dissing Lucas. It will be well-written and well-directed, and the essence of Lucas’s original story treatment will shine through and make it something great. Which is what I feel Episode IV was to begin with anyway. Then, once we’ve established a comfort zone, episodes VIII and IX will stop walking on eggshells and be the movies they’re supposed to be: wonderful, creative, enchanting, perhaps even daring, with the initially advertised input from many different highly creative artists, directors and writers. They might possibly even drop Abrams after his transitional job is complete. In the end I think it’ll be sort of like Nolan’s Batman trilogy: good but safe first movie with hints of brilliance, then sequels that are unreserved and let the brilliance gush through.

      Forgive me if I veered somewhat off-topic here; we were talking about the 3D conversions. But I couldn’t help replying, and got a bit carried away.

      • Stefan Kraft Says:

        Nice thoughts, Louis.

      • Stefan Kraft Says:

        Darth Media will probably write the usual “that’s the movie we expected back in 1999” stuff, no matter which scenario will become a reality. Oh well, haters gonna hate. And real fans enjoy (or are at least polite even if they do not like something).

  11. Eduardo Vargas Says:

    They won’t cancel the show to make the films. Seriously people, we need to stop worrying so much and treating everything like it’s the end of the world. We need to calm down, relax and think positively.

    • Hunk a Junk Says:

      “They won’t cancel the show to make the films.” Of course, that’s ridiculous. But so too is “we’re cancelling the 3D releases because we’re just so gosh damn busy with a film that doesn’t start shooting for 10 months to put a conversion that’s already finished in theaters. Because we love the fans so much. Also.” Yeah, that’s ridiculous too.

  12. Kenny Kraly Jr. Says:

    This is sad news but not a shocker and with episode 7 coming I just want the best Star Wars film as good as they can. That being said I was looking forward to the 3-D releases.

  13. oxward321 Says:

    I don’t know what to think about this. Dumb move. I’m very disappointed. Without recapping what everyone else has already said simply, I have a bad feeling about this Disney deal. 😦

  14. Derek Tate Says:

    sorry if I missed it in the chit-chat above, but what about the distribution rights for “Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope”? Please check this, but I’m sure 20th Century Fox retain those FOREVER. I know the other five films go back to Lucasfilm (and therefore Disney) in May 2020. If that is right, it might make future “box sets” a hard thing to get out to the public – that is, if we have such things by then.

  15. Derek Tate Says:

    yep, have a look here…

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/tangled-rights-could-tie-up-384541

  16. Yoda2245 Says:

    This whole “3-D postponement” brings up another opportunity for naysayers to fling more poop and spread lies. Many will rejoice that the “dreaded prequels that EVERYONE hates” are not getting released in 3-D. Others will just nitpick just for the sake of nitpicking. They just want to ruin everyone’s good time, annoy prequel fans and make them feel like fools. WELL, THEY’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE ME FEEL LIKE A FOOL.

    Like what you like people. Don’t let other people call you a fool because you like something they don’t like.

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