The wait is over (well, almost)
June 19, 2001 11:44 PM   Subscribe

The wait is over (well, almost) -- Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox are finally going to release Episode I on DVD. This despite the fact that up to now they've been denying that they'll release anything on DVD for "the foreseeable future."
posted by RylandDotNet (28 comments total)
Count me as uncaring. Sorry for any SW lovers out there, but this movie was stupendously awful. Folks, so long as George Lucas is able to squeeze even a few more bucks from you by shamelessly exploiting your childhood memories, it only encourages him to produce more thoughtless dreck; rumor has it Episode II is set to be directed by Alan Smithee himself. Why would releasing it on DVD make any difference? Why would anyone await this DVD release any more eagerly than the DVD version of Saving Silverman?
posted by hincandenza at 12:10 AM on June 20, 2001

`Bout time.
Why do so few others get how great this movie is?

Listen, if you can harbor hate in your heart for a cartoon 6 foot tall, mildly Jamaican-sounding iguana, you really must put down the TV remote you got from the mall that looks like a lightsaber, clear the small army of McFarlane action figures away from your pc, put on some pants, fully zip up your fly for once, dust off the yellow cheez-its dandruff from your buddhaesque form, delete the bukake from your hard drive, e-mail an apology to Marina Sirtis for the mildly creepy run-in at the supermarket that one time, tell mom your 35 years in the basement have been grand, and go make a threatening hand gesture at a twenty year old cop so you can stop using up the perfectly good air that might go fuel the lungs of someone more worthwhile, like that chick who makes sure that the funny looking marshmellows don't go in the bag with the good ones.
posted by dong_resin at 12:47 AM on June 20, 2001

This despite the fact that up to now they've been denying that they'll release anything on DVD for "the foreseeable future."

That link is sixteen months old. I think "the foreseeable future" is over now.

This looks like an exciting DVD release of a very fun movie, with lots of good extras. I can't wait to own it.
posted by toddshot at 12:55 AM on June 20, 2001

What does this mean:

Seven never-before-seen deleted scenes with full visual effects completed just for the DVD release

There was a good discussion here recently about deleted movie scenes, but this has to be a first. I could be interpreting the above statement incorrectly, but one way it reads is that Lucasfilm are adding 'deleted' scenes that hadn't even been finished when the film was released.

This strikes me as a little weird. Does anyone know a bit more about the scenes? I mean, are these new scenes being added in the same way completely superfluous, yet technically impressive, scenes were added to the first 3 movies when they were 're-mastered' or are these going to be extra scenes that add to the plot?

Or do we have to buy the DVD to find out.

I wonder........
posted by davehat at 12:56 AM on June 20, 2001

Here's a quote from the Digital Bits site:

7 fully post-produced deleted scenes (pod race "starting grid" sequence, complete pod race "2nd lap" sequence, "waterfall" sequence, Coruscant "aero-taxi" sequence, "sunrise before the podrace", "Anakin and Greedo" and "farewell to Jira").

The "Anakin and Greedo" sequence is very interesting. It shows young Anakin beating the snot out of a certain young Rodian, and Qui-Gon warning him of the lure of the Dark Side.
posted by toddshot at 1:00 AM on June 20, 2001

More details on the deleted scenes and other interesting info in this interview with Lucasfilm's VP of Marketing Jim Ward.

Can you tell I'm excited?
posted by toddshot at 1:54 AM on June 20, 2001

The reasons to break down and buy a DVD player are increasing and it's pissing me off.

Excalibur, Ghostbusters, Kentucky Fried Movie, Contact, Apollo 13 (w/Jim Lovell commentary), 12 Monkeys, North By Northwest, Vertigo, Das Boot, The James Bond Collection, Independence Day, Se7en, Jaws, The Matrix, American Movie, Sixth Sense, The Blair Witch Project, Galaxy Quest, Big Trouble In Little China, Dogma, Castaway and now SW1 Phantom Menace.

I already have most of these films on VHS but without all the fancy extra stuff. Why can't they just put all the extra stuff in a videotape? I don't wanna upgrade! Wah!
posted by ZachsMind at 2:04 AM on June 20, 2001

Yes, yes, that's all fine, but when are they releasing New Hope, Empire, and Jedi on DVD?
posted by topolino at 2:14 AM on June 20, 2001

The Jaws one is really good, Zachs. It's like seeing it again for the first time, it really got restored nicely with the....
posted by dong_resin at 2:43 AM on June 20, 2001

ZachsMind: If you're buying in the next week, don't pick Dogma up yet. They have a special two disc set coming out with supposedly 100 minutes of missing scenes. (yes I said 100, thats supposedly what they are saying, seems that would be a big chunk of the movie.)

See what ticks me off is not the DVD re-release, which I support because I am redoing a lot of my library in DVD (still some hold outs)..but the DVD release is followed by another. 'special edition' DVD which has more features/scenes/extras than the copy I've got.

Some I care about, some I don't. Depends on extras, but I am going to get the Dogma.

I think it was good they sort of waited on SWEP1 and are releasing the two disc pack. They could have easily issued just the movie on disc, and reissued a special edition later, but for once, looks like they aren't trying to completely dry out their fans wallets. (personal note: Eh, so so movie... didn't really care for a movie of an ankle biting anakin skywalker.)
posted by benjh at 4:16 AM on June 20, 2001

Much like Topolino, I want to know when the original damn trilogy is going to be released on DVD!

As for completing the special effects specifically for the DVD, that kinda makes sense. Wierder stuff has happened. Anyone remember when Halloween was first played on TV (way back when). To be honest, I don't either, but supposedly, Carpenter went back and filmed brand new scenes (I think the one in the courthouse was new) specifically for the TV broadcast.

I guess I could check out the Episode I DVD, but I'll probably just rent it or borrow a friend's copy... I said this in a recent post, but I think Episode I greatly depends on the future installments - if they are good, EI will seem better...
posted by tallman at 5:04 AM on June 20, 2001

Adding "additional footage" post release is already an accepted part of the Star Wars Canon, isn't it? Lucas has been adding to the original trilogy all along, including the digital insertion of characters that weren't there (Jabba in Star Wars) and entirely new endings (Return of the Jedi). He's also indicated in some of the interviews that I have seen that he's looking at the DVD releases to take one last long look at the whole sequence, so he's clearly open to changing what was released theatrically when it makes it to disc.
posted by m.polo at 5:33 AM on June 20, 2001

That link is sixteen months old. I think "the foreseeable future" is over now.

Oops. I could have sworn it said February 2001. <Ryland hangs his head in shame -- again>
posted by RylandDotNet at 5:56 AM on June 20, 2001

but I think Episode I greatly depends on the future installments - if they are good, EI will seem better...

I've been saying this since the damned movie came out. The major problem with Ep I is that it's crammed with exposition that won't pay off until later.

Well, that and Jar-Jar Binks, but I'm convinced that Jar-Jar is a secret Jedi adept. Ow! Stop hitting me!
posted by RylandDotNet at 6:03 AM on June 20, 2001

The website says they still have no plans to put the first three movies into DVD format. Not sure what George Lucas is waiting on.

Thanks Benjh, but like what you said with the release of DVD movies and then later rerelease of special editions, I think sales divisions of these companies use technology to an advantage against consumers. It's like how vinyl records and eight tracks gave way to cassettes, which gave way to CDs. Each time they're expecting us foolish consumers to upgrade our collections. This of course is why the RIAA disliked mp3s so much. We could go back through our old collections of records and cassettes and 'upgrade' ourselves, with just the cost of blank CDRs, and in theory, any digital upgrade of technology they come up with next.

Even if I could afford to upgrade, I'll put off upgrading my movie collection as long as I can.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:30 AM on June 20, 2001

Not sure what George Lucas is waiting on.

I think he has publically stated that he wants to personally supervise all kinds of special features, commentary, deleted scenes, etc. on the DVD release — which he won't have time to do until he's finished the theatrical release of the entire prequel trilogy.
posted by harmful at 6:43 AM on June 20, 2001

It wasn't clear to me that they are actually adding the deleted scenes inline with the rest of the movie. Most DVDs which feature "deleted scenes" have them as an extra option on the menu and you can go watch different scenes out-of-line with the movie. I don't know if it's possible to do with the DVD format, but it would be really cool to have two options: one to play the movie in its original form, and two to play the movie with the deleted scenes inserted. But to do it on one disc, not to have two discs (or a two-sided disc, blech).

What's with all the two-disc releases, anyway? I thought DVDs could support a multitude of layers (more than just two) so theoretically they could fit all the extras on one disc (or entire seasons of shows instead of two eps per disc). Do current DVD players not like more than two layers? Is the manufacturing process for multi-layer (beyond two) just too difficult or expensive at this point or what?
posted by daveadams at 7:30 AM on June 20, 2001

All that said, I'm looking forward to this DVD. Episode I was my least favorite Star Wars so far, but then I'm much more familiar with the original trilogy and there was soooo much hype going in that there's no way the movie could have lived up to it.

Still, casting Anakin as an 8-year old was a big mistake, especially evident during the longing lovey scenes with Amidala. Blech. That's on par with changing A New Hope to make Greedo shoot first. What's up with that? That decision ruined the Special Edition for me.
posted by daveadams at 7:33 AM on June 20, 2001

Dave, the X-Men DVD and The Abyss are two releases (among others, I'm sure) that feature what's known as "seamless branching," where the movie plays in two forms: the original and one that inserts scenes that were missing from the theatrical release. Unfortunately, my DVD player doesn't support seamless branching very well (but I can 'archive' movies on VHS, which makes Netflix even more valuable), so I haven't actually seen it in action.

And to answer your last questions: yes, and yes. (really, I think the discs are pretty much filled by the time you have the movie and two or three different audio tracks. Dolby Digital 5.1 streams are something like 384k/sec, ProLogic is 192k/sec -- it all adds up pretty fast) Plus, why risk upsetting the buyers because their players don't like your multi-layer DVD when burning another one is so cheap, and you can charge more for it?
posted by OneBallJay at 9:08 AM on June 20, 2001

Yes, yes, that's all fine, but when are they releasing New Hope, Empire, and Jedi on DVD?

topolino, prepare to be disappointed:

1) Lucas' company has hinted that George wants to wait until he completes the new trilogy before releasing the original trilogy on DVD. So you may have a very long wait.

2) You will probably never get the 'original' trilogy on DVD as you saw them in theaters -- just the 'special editions.' I have the THX Widescreen VHS boxset that came out in the mid-90s, and it states very clearly that it is the LAST video release of the trilogy 'in its original format.'

Now, of course that could just be marketing copy... but not long after that Lucas released the special editions with new CGI effects that just happened to match the new Episode I film that came later.

I also read about a year ago that Lucas destroyed the original negatives of Star Wars (I wish I could find the article, but I remember reading it at The official story was that it was because they were so badly deteriorated, but it's no secret that Lucas has grown really dissatisfied about the original trilogy over the years.

Sure, there may be a digital version of the original archived at LucasArts for historical purposes -- but I think the original trilogy will be out of circulation for a LONG time.
posted by Dirjy at 9:29 AM on June 20, 2001

This may be wishful thinking, but I'm not sure that rules out a "branching" DVD release that would give the viewer a choice between original theatrical and SE releases. Of course, real class would be Lucas offering a branching version of Menace that presented the fan-created "Phantom Edit" that's been making the rounds as an option.
posted by harmful at 10:06 AM on June 20, 2001

posted by owillis at 10:09 AM on June 20, 2001

Harmful - I'd love to see an original/SE branching DVD. I would pay for that alone, quite frankly.

Tons of extras that relate to the original trilogy are already 'edited' - I'm pretty sure deleted scenes have been shown by Lucasfilm employee/fan ambassador Steve Sansweet at at least one convention. There's a documentry or two, interviews can't be that hard to get... There was a whole bunch of stuff on a laserdisc package a few years back that I'm sure would work.

And knowning Lucasfilm, they'll just release it later with more stuff anyhow. Damnit, if I'm gonna get a Star Wars DVD, I want the original movies.
posted by fujikodunc at 5:14 PM on June 20, 2001

You're drooling over Superman? Why? Admitedly when I saw Superman 2 in the cinema I thought it was pretty cool, but it was the first film that I actually went to see rather than watching on TV.
posted by davidgentle at 5:20 PM on June 20, 2001

Is anyone else drooling over the idea of the Star Wars Christmas Special as an easter egg?
posted by toddshot at 5:57 PM on June 20, 2001

I was originally going to put the following up on the front page, but since we had a Star Wars related post a mere two days ago, I thought I'd put it here instead. Besides I couldn't crop down what I wanted to say into four lines or less, which I personally feel is recommended for the front page posts. I got the blurb down to five lines, then when I moved it here, it kinda got real big again...

When I first saw The Phantom Menace, I walked out of the theater mildly confused. I liked it and I didn't. Seemed too geared towards children, but I was only nine years old when A New Hope came out, and I recall it completely overtook my dreams and daydreams for at least a year afterwards. I particularly dug the droids. I remember wishing I had my own Artoo.

Isn't the original Star Wars movie kinda geared towards the inner child we all have? Had Lucas purposefully geared E1 towards the same audience that he had 25 years before, children who were 25 years older, it wouldn't have meshed well with what he had already accomplished.

Episode One has grown on me with repeated viewings. Kinda like a fungus, but not so much in a bad way. When you see what went into it, and what's going into the next one... This is Lucas' mental playground. He's letting us in on the ride.

We've seen your thoughts in the past. What are your thoughts now? I'm not just asking about the DVD, but overall. Is it really that bad of a movie? Not what you expected? What did you expect? A year ago they put Episode One on VHS. A year from now Episode Two's gonna hit the theaters. The DVD's coming out now for E1.. This just seems like the ideal time to take stock, both for diehard fans of the series as well as those who just don't grok it.

It's actually a flawless movie in execution; certainly from a technical standpoint. Maybe it's too polished? Is that the problem? It doesn't have that rough edge of the first film - that flying by the seat of your pants comparatively low-budget, independent film feel that the original has. Still, it's an amazing achievement. Or maybe it's the hype that kills the franchise? Even Star Wars can't possibly be expected to live up to this much hype, and I don't think George Lucas lays awake at night tossing and turning worrying over what every little fan and dissenter personally feels. I don't think he gives a shit, to be honest. He's telling this story for himself - to get it out. Like the Princess and the Pea. If anything causes him to lose sleep, it's probably this lifelong nagging need deep inside him to get this story told once and for all. He started with nine or maybe even twelve movies. He's compromised with himself for six, and will probably walk away after it's all over feeling more accomplished and successful than any other storyteller in history.

I even kinda like Jar-Jar, even though it is still fun to also hate him. Once you accept his purpose is comic relief, and just delegate him down to that level and try not to read anything else into him more than that, he's almost palatable. The film would be missing a few good laughs without him.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:53 AM on June 21, 2001

I think when all is said and done, Phantom Menace will be seen as an excellent introduction to the Star Wars universe. Yes, the technology is more advanced, but that's because the movie takes place during a renaissance of sorts for this universe, before the Empire takes control and everything goes to hell in a handbasket. I think the next two films will show a gradual evolution into the style of A New Hope.

I greatly enjoyed Ep1 when it came out. Enough to see it 6 or 7 times in the theater. Great actors, incredible visuals and sound, and an engaging story. It holds up well as a stand alone sci-fi fantasy, and it follows the tradition of the Star Wars films well. It's basically a kids' movie, as were Episodes 4 through 6. It's just that the viewers who were kids for their original releases have grown up.

Anyway, I'm rambling. It's too early.
posted by toddshot at 8:37 AM on June 21, 2001

All I wanted from E1 was that it lived up to the trailer.
That's it.
I'm not sure why it didn't in the end. It was kind of like bitting into a biscuit that you thought was going to be really hard and then realising that it was actually some butter. Or something.
posted by davidgentle at 9:20 PM on June 21, 2001

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