Rumor Buster: Is Disney Really Bringing the ‘Star Wars’ Original Theatrical Releases to Blu-ray?
Over the weekend, a report surfaced on ComicBook.com that Disney is planning on releasing the uncut, original theatrical releases of ‘Star Wars‘ on DVD and Blu-ray before ‘Star Wars: Episode 7‘ hits theaters. It’s a great thought and one we (and many ‘Star Wars’ fans) would love to see actually happen. But, is it actually happening?
We touched on this earlier this year when another “unconfirmed report” about the ‘Star Wars’ original theatrical cuts on DVD made the rounds, but considering this report is gathering steam and the rumors don’t seem to be going away, it might be time to re-address this.
Guys: it’s not happening.
There might be some kind of ‘Star Wars’ Blu-ray box set in the works to coincide with the release of ‘Star Wars: Episode 7′ (and given Lucasfilm’s penchant for merchandising, we certainly wouldn’t be surprised), but it won’t be the original cuts. The ComicBook.com sources said that “Disney has plans to release the original cut of the Star Wars trilogy on Blu-ray.” Here’s where you know that these “sources” are immediately suspect. Disney can plan all they want to release ‘Star Wars’ on Blu-ray, but they can’t actually release ‘Star Wars’ on Blu-ray because they don’t have the rights to do so.
20th Century Fox, who distributed the original trilogy, owns the worldwide theatrical, nontheatrical, and home video distribution rights for all six ‘Star Wars’ films until 2020. It is now 2014. Next year will be 2015. The year after will be 2016… You see where we’re going with this? And, even if Disney were waiting until 2020 to get their grubby little mouse hands on ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi,’ they still wouldn’t have the rights to ‘A New Hope’, which Fox owns in perpetuity (translation: forever).
So, let’s assume for a moment that Fox is actually working on a re-release of the original ‘Star Wars’ cuts. Even if that were true, Badass Digest is reporting that “as long as George Lucas is alive they’re not willing (or able?…) to go against his wishes and release the untouched originals.”
And, George Lucas does NOT want those untouched originals released in any way, shape or form. He infamously once said that version of the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy “doesn’t exist anymore.”
And, even if Fox wanted to kick sand in George Lucas’ face now that he’s sold Lucasfilm to Disney, they couldn’t do it without Disney’s blessing. As we’ve previously noted, Disney owns the rights to the movies. Fox owns the distribution rights to the movies, but can’t distribute them because they don’t own the movies themselves (minus ‘A New Hope,’ which they fully financed). Disney owns the movies, but can’t release them because they don’t own distribution rights.
It’s all very complicated and we can see how the average consumer could get very frustrated at the lack of availability of the original edits. But, until you hear some big splashy announcement from Disney, Fox and Lucasfilm that they’ve come to some sort of financial agreement and that George Lucas has completely reserved course from everything he’s said over the past 20 years, well…we wouldn’t be holding our breath for this DVD release anytime soon.