Lucasfilm announced today that they will be releasing the 3D conversions of the entire Star Wars saga starting in 2012.
Rumors go back and forth between them releasing one film per year to a timeline quicker than that. Lucasfilm told me that it's too early to discuss the release pattern. (No actual release date has been mentioned). The first film released will be The Phantom Menace.
This is great news. I've heard rumblings about this upconversion for years and if anyone can do it right, it's ILM. People can complain all they want about what they do and don't like about the Star Wars movies, but no one has ever impugned the reputation of Industrial Light and Magic for their ability to bring groundbreaking technology to the big screen. I imagine that the recent failures in upconverting had a lot to do with the quick turnaround, but Lucasfilm has, by some reports, been working on this conversion for the last 5 years, and we're still 2 years away from seeing the first one.
Just imagine seeing the podrace in 3D. And the speeder chase in Attack of the Clones. And the opening space battle in Revenge of the Sith. And the speeder bikes in Return of the Jedi. There is so much great material in there that this is great news for Star Wars and film fans around the world.
And I'd like to preemptively remind everyone who is going to complain about "Lucas trying to get more money out of us" of two points: 1) You don't have to go see it when it comes out, and 2) He gave half his fortune to charity. Seeing these films in the theatre benefits our American Education system in a roundabout kind of way thanks to the George Lucas founded Edutopia.
From their press release:
Lucasfilm Ltd. announced today that the live-action Star Wars Saga will be converted to 3D! There are few movies that lend themselves more perfectly to 3D; from the Death Star trench run to the Tatooine Podrace, the Star Wars Saga has always delivered an entertainment experience that is completely immersive. Presented by Twentieth Century Fox and Lucasfilm Ltd., the cutting edge conversion will take that immersion to the next thrilling level, with Industrial Light & Magic supervising the project.Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace is expected to be released theatrically in 2012. A release date has not yet been determined.
"Getting good results on a stereo conversion is a matter of taking the time and getting it right," said John Knoll, Visual Effects Supervisor for Industrial Light & Magic. "It takes a critical and artistic eye along with an incredible attention to detail to be successful. It is not something that you can rush if you want to expect good results. For Star Wars we will take our time, applying everything we know both aesthetically and technically to bring audiences a fantastic new Star Wars experience."
I know I often rail against 3D conversions (and the entire 3D fad in general) , but the chance to see Star Wars on the big screen again, in any format, is terribly exciting news.
The thing I might be most excited for (aside from being able to see Star Wars on the big screen again, are the trailers for the rereleases. You can watch the last batch from 1997 to see what I mean.
I have requests in for interviews and more information, so please, stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
Bryan Young is the editor of Big Shiny Robot! and is the biggest Star Wars fan you know.