I decided I’d use my space this week to talk about the “postponement” of the 3-D conversions, my thoughts and feelings, and try to make sense of the whole thing.
Lucasfilm’s official statement is that the 3-D re-release of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith (and therefore ostensibly IV-VI) have been delayed because all hands need to be on deck for Episode VII. The fact that other huge Star Wars projects such as the Clone Wars will apparently continue unhindered makes this press release feel more than a little hollow. Everyone’s asking what the real reason could be.
The knee-jerk reactions of many of my friends, and indeed this was my initial response, was fear. Fear that finally Lucasfilm was doing what we had dreaded and sweeping I-III under the rug to please the haters. This in turn lead to anger at the apparent appeasement and hatred of those who decided we true fans didn’t matter. Predictably, suffering was all around.
Then my head cleared and I decided to take my own advice and not go to that dark side just yet, quick as it is to join a fight.
I trust George Lucas. I trust that he wouldn’t put a system in place that would tear him down in his absence. Even though I still feel Lucasfilm isn’t being as forthcoming as they should, I still refuse to believe they would do this to loyal fans.
Neither do I believe Disney would cut its profits. Let’s not forget, I-III era merchandise sells just as much as IV-VI amongst the target age group, perhaps even moreso because of the aforementioned Clone Wars series. The Phantom Menace’s 3-D run, while giving the haters an opportunity for topical complaining, did remarkably well for a February 3-D re-release of a 13-year-old movie everyone supposedly hates. It became the first Star Wars movie to earn over a billion dollars (adding this run’s sales in with the initial release). I’m not one of the cynics who think Disney is only in it for money, but they certainly know how to make it more than most and they wouldn’t dare be that irresponsible.
So what’s likely the real reason? Only those involved know for sure, but if I were a betting man I’d say it’s a battle of rights. 20th Century Fox still owns the distribution rights to I-VI for the next seven years or so, even though Disney owns the franchise and the right to make more. Right to Make verses Right to Distribute is a common battle in Hollywood. Why do you think it took so long for The Hobbit to be made? It was, among other things, negotiations and legal red tape because Warner Brothers had the right to make the film, but MGM still had distribution. If you make a movie, all you can do is sit on it without the right to show it around, and thus things like this need to be squared away sooner rather than later. This probably has something to do with that’s going on here.
I want to make it clear that I’m not vilifying either side in this. They’re just trying to look out for their interests, as businesses ought to do. We just happen to be caught in the middle this time. Also, I admit that I could be 100% wrong on this. There just seems far more to this story than is being told, and I refuse to assume the worst.
For that is a path to the dark side.