Currently most of geekdom is wrapped up in rumors surrounding who’s gonna be key gripping Star Wars 7: The Search For More Relevance, but some of us inhabiting the furthest outposts of Yavin 4 are more concerned with what might now happen with the original original Star Wars trilogy. That is to say, the pre-1997 non-Special Editions, the unaltered versions of Star Wars, Empire, and Jedi an entire generation fell in love with in theaters and on home video, the versions George Lucas dismissed years ago as “rough drafts” he never wanted the world to see again. Will Disney finally appease the hardcore ewok jockeys with restored anamorphic releases of the OOT on DVD / Blu-Ray or will Bob Iger assume there’s no point since bootleggers have been passing rather decent despecialized versions around on the Internet for a while now and if anyone really wants to hear “Yub Nub” they can set phasers for Google?
In the words of Yoda, difficult to say. Always in motion, corporate strategies are. On the one hand, Disney’s been pretty good lately about catering to fan whims, packaging with noticeable TLC less popular properties like The Great Mouse Detective and The Black Cauldron for the new generation of Mouse stormtroopers. On the other hand, Mickey’s been pretty lazy with the Muppets in terms of video retail—seasons four and five of “The Muppet Show” still haven’t hit DVD and I can’t even begin to count the various TV one-offs from back in the day that now appear lost to history. It sure seems like a significant portion of this country loves to ride Kermit’s balls and would snap up without thinking any of his media; thus, it’s hard to understand why Disney is suppressing / ignoring stuff like “The Muppets Go Hollywood” and “John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together” (not to be confused with “Rocky Mountain Holiday,” a later Denver / Fozzie TV crossover).
Lucasfilm’s party line about restoring the original original trilogy was usually the allegedly prohibitive expense involved, which seemed dubious until we all found out they were relying on massive bank loans as early as 1980. Okay, fine, maybe Skywalker Ranch was having trouble keeping the lights on all these years, but Disney farts money. Hell, they dropped four billion alone on Star Wars like it wasn’t no thang. They operate numerous theme parks that all cost upwards of seventy or eighty dollars to enter—and once you’re inside, bottled water is like five bucks a pop. There’s no way Disney doesn’t have the cabbage to recreate the original Star Wars films the way they were before CGI Jabba showed up to Docking Bay 94. They probably have enough money to do it and put it out and be okay even if copy the first never sold. The question is do they have the motivation? Does Disney care about pleasing what feels like a rapidly shrinking part of Star Wars fandom?
Again, who knows. Disney reached a point a long time ago where they can basically do whatever they want, fans or logic be damned. Case in point: Splash Mountain, the enormous and enormously fun log flume in several of their aforementioned theme parks, oft considered the top tier attraction, an attraction that for reasons unknown was based on a film the company has refused to release and basically can’t release because of its perceived racial insensitivity. No, I’ve never seen 1946’s Academy Award-winning Song of the South in its entirety, but I trust the Mouse when they say, “Hey, this movie, uh, it might be too offensive for our culture post-Civil Rights Movement.” Alright, cool. Then why did you base a log flume around it?
Let’s just say I’m not holding my breath that Disney’s going to make every correct and/or sensible move with its newly minted Wookiees and Wampas. I guess as long as they don’t put mouse ears on the Death Star I won’t feel betrayed.