For the past 20-plus years, we’ve been allowing the Saga Editions to stand in for the originals in box sets and in retrospective videos. An entire generation is growing up under the mistaken impression that these are the movies their parents fell in love with. We can’t stand for this anymore. The Saga Editions could exist in their own corner, but there is no reason that the original pieces of film history should be locked in a vault somewhere.
The problem I’ve been seeing recently is an “I got mine” attitude. Disney doesn’t seem to mind the fan restorations, and the more people go around saying “Well, I guess it’s not coming—doesn’t matter to me because I’ve got [Despecialized/4K77/VHS],” the less likely it becomes that Disney will bother to release the original versions. I’m not saying we can’t have and enjoy the fan preservations, I’m saying we can’t pretend they would be anything compared to a professional restoration of backups we know they have just sitting in an archive. We have to make the demand.
Even J.J. Abrams recently said in an interview that “it would be great to have [the originals] available for a mainstream audience.” But when he asked about it, he was told such a release was not necessarily possible “for reasons I don’t quite understand.” So when he watches the originals, he has to watch Despecialized. The man directed two Star Wars movies probably has to pirate the same versions fans do. That’s insane.
The simple fact is that the originals are historical artifacts that can stand on their own, separate from the franchise they birthed. For all the reasons detailed here, fans should be able to watch the versions that hit theaters some four decades ago. Moreover, Disney paid $4 billion for this franchise, it should want fans to want to watch them. The demand is there; the company could likely bring a lot of converts to Disney+ if they just met it.
This isn’t a call for a boycott, nor is it a call for a Disney/Lucasfilm pile-on. Instead, it’s a call for one thing, and one thing only: #ReleaseTheOriginalTrilogy.