The Original Star Wars Trilogy Is Coming to DVD

Surely, one of the cornerstones of your Connected Home is your home theater—specifically, your DVD player. And one of the reasons you bought that player was to enjoy your favorite films with crisp image quality and foundation-rattling Dolby Digital sound. A frustrating DVD holdout among those favorite films has been George Lucas's original Star Wars trilogy, which many DVD aficionados consider the Holy Grail of film series. We're happy to announce that your wait is over!

George Lucas and Fox have announced a September 21 release date for a four-disc boxed set that will include Episode 4: A New Hope, Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back, and Episode 6: Return of the Jedi. The fourth disc will contain a brand-new documentary and other assorted extras, and the set will also include audio commentaries over all three films. Pricing is to be determined.

This announcement arrives in spite of that fact that George Lucas once insisted that he wouldn't release the three movies until after he finished his prequel Star Wars trilogy in May 2005. That trilogy, which includes Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Episode 2: Attack of the Clones, and an untitled third film, has been a box-office success but has generally displeased fans of the original trilogy.

Similarly, the new DVDs are certain to be blockbusters but are already generating controversy. Despite fervent pleas from longtime Star Wars fans around the world, these DVDs won't contain the films' original theatrical versions. Instead, the DVDs will include the much-debated (in some cases, much-maligned) Special Edition versions that Lucas released in the late 1990s. These versions added new digital effects (to replace award-winning model effects and to add characters) and even changed plot points. Yes, Greedo will shoot first in these DVD editions.

The decision to release only the Special Edition versions on DVD is curious, considering that the DVD format easily offers sufficient room to provide both cuts. "It's simply a matter of an artist's right," said Jim Ward, a Lucasfilm vice president and the set's executive producer. "We realize there's a lot of debate out there, but this isn't a democracy. We love our fans, but this is about art and filmmaking. \[George\] has decided that the sole version he wants available is this one."

Adding more fuel to the fan-based fire will be that Fox itself recently released the awe-inspiring Alien Quadrilogy, a massive set that included multiple versions of each Alien film.

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