In true Lucasfilm fashion, the Star Wars Blu-ray collection was announced at the 2011 CES show by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment President Mike Dunn and the Dark Lord himself, Vader (flanked by Stormtroopers, of course). I guess it’s always fun to see Vader out there mingling with the little people. We’ll see the set on sale (of course) late in 2011 to maximize those Holiday sales.
The announcements at the show and on the official Star Wars site were of course filled with the usual hyperbolic marketing nonsense. Phrases like “The most anticipated Blu-ray release ever” and “the most anticipated Blu-ray collection since the launch of the high-def format” were aplenty. There was much talk of “product” and “customers” and the usual marketing stats. That stuff does not concern me, however.
As a customer, what I’m interested in is the quality of the set. I’m not only referring to the visual quality. I’m sure that the transfers to Blu-ray have gone smoothly, especially after some of the backlash from the DVD sets that were released a few years back. It wasn’t major backlash (most of it had to do with color correction and other technical things), but hopefully someone at Lucasfilm heard the complaints and will make some corrections.
What I’m referring to is the quality of the set itself. Yes, we’ll get the films and they’ll look great. Even the crankiest of prequel haters will most likely find themselves hard pressed to complain while watching Episode III in high definition. I know I’m looking forward to it. But are we going to get a real bang for our bucks here?
When the set was announced by George Lucas a few months back, he shared a never-before-seen deleted scene from the opening of Return of the Jedi that made me feel like a little kid again. I mean, my Star Wars interest has definitely waned in the past few years but seeing that video clip really jazzed me. I hadn’t been that excited about something to do with Star Wars for years.
I can only hope that there are lots more of those types of scenes on this set. If they grace us with one or two from each film, I’ll be a little disappointed. I’ll still be happy, but a little let down at the same time. I’ve had a keen interest in deleted footage from the Star Wars films for a long time and those types of scenes really make re-buying the films worth it for me.
What else will we have on the sets? According to Starwars.com, the sets will include “…all six live-action Star Wars feature films utilizing the highest possible picture and audio presentation, along with three additional discs and more than 30 hours of extensive special features including never-before-seen deleted and alternate scenes, an exploration of the exclusive Star Wars archives, and much more.”
Now we have to take the marketing into account here. Usually when these sets boast some huge number of hours of bonus footage, it’s a bit of an exaggeration. What I’m wondering at the moment is how much of that 30 hours is stuff we’ve already seen. Lucasfilm has been known to duplicate documentaries on various sets. They’ll add web documentaries or other previously seen things and then total up the running times to be able to boast “hours” of additional footage. That’s not lying, mind you. It’s marketing.
Even if we get something like an hour of deleted footage from each of the six films (which I highly doubt there will be – unless some of the scenes are long and include perhaps some rough takes) that leaves another 24 or so hours of stuff. Does that include the commentaries? Each one would then be 2 hours or so each, totaling 12 hours. That’s assuming there’s only one per film. Hopefully there are individual George Lucas commentaries this time and not those chopped up commentaries by everyone else.
I’m not trying to get down on the set. I’m just trying to make sure that your expectations as a fan are not too high. Hopefully I’m wrong about some of this and the set is just right and loaded to the gills with really interesting stuff. Frankly, a tour of the Lucasfilm archives doesn’t interest me unless I’m… you know… there. Hopefully it’s not some 2 hour walk-around.
Anyhow – despite my skepticism, I’m totally stoked about getting this set and checking out what they’ve done to Star Wars this time around. I’m sure the next set we get will have the acronym “3D” in it somewhere so for now, let’s enjoy this set.
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