In 1997, George Lucas popularized the term “special edition” with the re-release of A New Hope, now with CGI dewbacks and droid wackiness. He later did the same thing for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and in his mind, those are the definitive versions, not the original theatrical cuts. The unaltered original Star Wars trilogy, as it was presented to audiences in 1977, 1980, and 1983, hasn’t been released since 2006, but the rough transfer made them unwatchable on modern TVs. (It’s a whole tangled — and for Star Wars purists, infuriating — history.) So, for an entire generation raised on Blu-ray and streaming, Joh Yowza has always sang “Jedi Rocks” (sorry, the Max Rebo Band), and will always, because Disney has no intention of releasing the original cuts.
Even after The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams asked nicely.
“I’ve been told that, for reasons that I quite don’t understand, that that’s not necessarily possible,” he told Now This News about the non-tinkered versions. “Which is, you know, too bad because that was the thing that I loved.” I’m usually of the “let the past die” mindset, but if it means getting rid of Jabba’s reaction to Han Solo stepping on his tail, I couldn’t agree with Abrams more. As for why Disney is curiously reluctant to release the original original trilogy, it’s either because the “negatives of the movies were permanently altered for the creation of the Special Editions,” or, as Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy explained, it’s out of respect for Lucas. Maybe both! My response to that: