In 1997, Lucasfilm released a 20th anniversary, special edition version of the original Star Wars trilogy. Ever since then, most Star Wars fans have craved one thing more than anything else: A re-release of the original theatrical cut. 20 years later, as we approach the 40th anniversary of the creation of Star Wars, Episodes 4-6 might finally be returning in their original form.
A new rumor suggests that Disney and Lucasfilm are planning to re-release the original cuts at some point this year, and while such rumors pop up with staggering regularity, this time the report is coming from a slightly more reliable source, namely MakingStarWars.net. The rumor doesn’t go into much detail, but it claims multiple sources believe the re-release is imminent. What form this re-release takes could be anything from a plan to put the original cuts back in theaters or a give them full Blu-Ray and digital home entertainment release.
The timing of such a release would certainly make sense. It is, after all, a major anniversary year for the franchise, which is flying high after the successes of The Force Awakens and Rogue One. Couple that with the fact that Disney has already announced that they plan to open April’s Star Wars Celebration event with a special 40th Anniversary panel, complete with “a few surprises”, and the case seems pretty strong.
Lucas’s special edition re-release of the original trilogy wasn’t, on the face of it, a bad thing. For a start, it gave us a chance to see the ‘galaxy far far away’ back on the big screen, introducing a new generation of moviegoers to Luke, Han, Leia and co. It also added some wonderful shots to the originals, such as the now-famous ‘X-Wing Death Star approach’ as well as multiple improvements to scenes in Empire Strikes Back’s Battle of Hoth.
Instead, the issues fans have stem from the various unnecessary alterations that Lucas made to the original cut. Random CGI bonus scenes were added, and other scenes were cut or dramatically altered, with Han’s shooting of Greedo being the most famous. Most grievously, the closing scene of Return of the Jedi was edited and we lost what was, in my 10-year-old self’s opinion, a brilliant rendition of the Ewok ‘Yub Nub’ celebration song.
The original cuts were briefly offered on DVD by Walmart, but since then they’ve been damn near impossible to find on modern media. Most fans are forced to dust off their VHS players if they want to watch the cut of Star Wars they first saw as children, so hopefully, Disney will recognize that they could essentially print money if they were to release them on Blu-Ray and digital. All they have to do is figure out an agreement with 20th Century Fox, who still own the rights to the version we crave so badly.