The first call I had to make when I read the news that "Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace" now has a release date of February 10, 2012, was my co-writer Scott Swan, who is the purest "Star Wars" fan I know.
Sure enough, he was excited to hear that this is the official kick-off date for what we already knew was coming, a film-by-film re-release of the entire "Star Wars" saga for 3D screens. The thing is, if they were releasing the films in their original theatrical order, I would wait and show Toshi the movies in the theater for the first time. But since they're starting with "The Phantom Menace," I'm going to break down and show him the films on Blu-ray this fall instead, in the order I prefer.
It's funny… with "Star Wars," no matter what you write or what you say, there will immediately be someone who wants to argue the point with you. That's where we've ended up with the series. They are little more than fodder for nerd arguments at this point. I'm amazed at people who walk around ready to immediately spew venom at every mention of the prequels, as if it's a fresh wound that has never healed, and who still insist that the films in some way robbed them of something. The anger, the rage… it's almost terrifying to even mention the series in certain company because of just how violent the reaction can be.
What I find just as interesting as the nerds who get super-crazy-angry at every mention of the Prequels are the younger fans who grew up on the Prequels, and who not only don't have a problem with the movies, but who actively love them. And as hard as that is for older fans to deal with, there is a generation who feels very protective of the Prequels, and who genuinely love them. Those fans are the ones who are going to crowd into theaters next February, genuinely excited to revisit the films on the bigscreen.
I'm curious to see if Lucas continues to tinker with the films in major ways. For example, I know ILM had a team working to replace Stoner Puppet Yoda from "Phantom Menace" with the very good digital Yoda they developed for "Clones" and "Sith." Will we see that on the Blu-ray release this year? Will he hold it for the 3D version? Will he use it at all?
A few years ago, I saw an early 3D test for the "Star Wars" films, using clips from the 1977 film as well as "Attack Of The Clones," and those short tests were gorgeous. The idea of post-conversion has been controversial because of the half-assed job done on many of the films that have been put out in the process, but the real test of how good something can look will come with the release of "Star Wars" in 3D, and with the release of "Titanic." These are going to be post-conversions where every bit of time and care possible is lavished on them, and if these don't work, then I'm guessing that will end the idea of post-conversions. But if these match those early tests or even exceed them, as they certainly could, then the challenge will be for filmmakers to take their time and do it right and reap major rewards as a result.
I'm certainly going to be there when "Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace" opens in 3D on February 10, 2012, both of my sons along for the ride. Will you?