George Lucas announced today that the Star Wars films will finally be released on Blu-ray in the fourth quarter of 2011. According to IGN the set will feature “all six live-action Star Wars feature films, with the highest picture and audio quality,” along with extras such as “documentaries, vintage behind-the-scenes moments, interviews, retrospectives and never-before-seen footage from the Lucasfilm archives.”
In an interview with The New York Times Lucas said that the saga hadn’t been announced before because he was waiting for mass adoption of the Blu-ray format.
Mr. Lucas said the versions of the first three “Star Wars” films – “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” – included in the Blu-ray boxed set will be the special-edition releases that were shown theatrically in 1997 and digitally restored for a 2004 standard-definition DVD boxed set.
Perhaps bracing for the reactions of fans who decried some of the changes made to the special-edition films – like, say, an exchange of gunfire between Han Solo and a certain green-skinned bounty hunter – Mr. Lucas said that to release the original versions of these films on Blu-ray was “kind of an oxymoron because the quality of the original is not very good.”
“You have to go through and do a whole restoration on it, and you have to do that digitally,” he added. “It’s a very, very expensive process to do it. So when we did the transfer to digital, we only transferred really the upgraded version.”