The earliest reference I could find online to the imminent arrival of your rebel fleet–er, I mean imminent release of the Star Wars saga in 3D, sorry, is from the Guardian in 2005 (here). According to them, the Big G. L. himself announced at a Las Vegas convention on March 17, 2005, that he was looking into making the six films 3D.
The news starts to pop in 2008. ComingSoon.net back in 2008 (here). This would have made a good early birthday present for me that year, but I wasn’t aware of it, even though it spread to various blogs pretty quickly. The gut of the matter is that Dreamworks Animations CEO Katzenberg confirmed that The Big G. L. was looking to do the saga in 3D, and, “He isn’t going to put a product out, I think, that isn’t anything other than first rate.”
Other blogs picked this up right away. Io9 (here) was critical of the project, but pointed to a much more useful report from Ain’t It Cool News (here) with several great tidbits. One, that ShoWest “a few years ago” screened 3D scenes from ANH that were reportedly “breathtaking.” Two, that other earlier references had hinted that this hasn’t really come out of the blue at all. Later that same day, Jenna Wortham of Wired reported (here) pretty much the same thing in different words. More interestingly, she noted the divided response of fanboys: pretty much half and half, with as many people screaming “NOOOOO!” as “I approve!” This isn’t new, though, for SW. We’re an opinionated bunch, and those opinions usually don’t line up. Just look at me! I have my own canon. Oh, and interestingly enough, Wortham points out that a 3D conversion can cost $50,000-$100,000 per minute. That’s anywhere from $39 to $79 million to do all six films. Oh, and Gizmodo (here), a few hours later, did their own report–basically Wired’s report with the moral question of, “They’ll make their money back, but is it worth it?”
Anyway, on to the present, or at least nearer the present than 2008. Last year, on September 28, StarWars.com themselves finally reported on the issue (here). Yes, the six Star Wars films will be released in 3D. “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.” John Knoll of ILM emphasized the importance of taking time to do the conversion properly: “Getting good results on a stereo conversion is a matter of taking the time and getting it right. 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.” Cinematical’s report (here) is too busy being really bitter about the prequels to provide anything useful. The article they cite from Variety (here) is a far more readable source. Confirming that the films will be released one at a time starting in 2012, The Hollywood Reporter chimes in (here). Episode I will come out in early 2012 (Update: According to StarWars.com and IMDB, February 10, 2012).
I know that 3D is pretty trendy and it comes out every 20 years or so, but I’m still excited about this. I’m as critical of the medium as the next person, but you know what, screw all that anyway. Who really cares? The important thing is that Star Wars will be coming to theaters again–all six–in a row. I finally get a chance to see all of them on the big screen! This makes me excited, and you should be exited, too.
And that’s the report for today! Now I’m going to go write a presentation for Tuesday’s class. May the Force be with you!