In the late '90s, the world of Star Wars changed forever when George Lucas oversaw the development of the Special Edition trilogy, which featured the original films getting updated special effects and modified scenes. Many fans have been desperate to own the original, unaltered versions of these films in a high-definition format, which seemed like it would never see the light of day.
With Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox, who previously held the rights to the first six films in the saga, many think that one result could be the release of those unaltered films. As one Lucasfilm executive recently pointed out, the issue surrounding their release wasn't related to legal rights, but due to an adherence of Lucas' wishes.
Pablo Hidalgo, a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group, took to Twitter to preemptively address the big question he was sure to be asked repeatedly.
While Hidalgo doesn't explicitly state what is keeping the original films from being released on Blu-ray, subsequent replies paint a pretty clear picture of the situation.
The stumbling block in releasing the unaltered films comes down to George Lucas claiming that the definitive versions of his films were already released on Blu-ray in 2011. Disney now owns the rights to the original films, but Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has always adhered to Lucas' decisions about the original films, which will likely continue for the foreseeable future.
If the studio hierarchy ends up shifting in the future to the point that Lucasfilm execs no longer believe in Lucas' vision, the recent acquisition could cut through some of the red tape, despite those releases negating Lucas' beliefs about the films he created.
Currently, the highest quality versions of the unaltered films that exist came with a 2006 DVD release of the trilogy. Initially, the Special Edition trilogy was released on DVD in 2004, but limited editions of the set were released two years later that featured both versions of the films, with the original trilogy files being taken from the laserdisc releases of the films, which were relatively poor quality.
Star Wars fans can't help but get excited over the world of possibilities relating to the future of the saga, but we won't be holding our breath about ever seeing a Blu-ray release of the original, unaltered trilogy anytime soon.