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page created: 1/24/00
updated: 6/19/01


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The Star Wars on DVD Campaign




Episode I DVD Officially Announced!

Lucasfilm's Jim Ward answers questions about the Episode I DVD.

JUNE 2001 UPDATE

It's official, folks! The day we've been waiting a LONG time for... the day you Star Wars fans have been going crazy for... has finally arrived! As we expected, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox have officially announced the WORLDWIDE DVD release of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace for October 16th. The 2-disc set will include 480 minutes of content (including commentary) - some 6 hours in all - including brand new scenes that you've never seen before, fully post-produced just for this DVD release! The set will be priced at $29.98 in the U.S. and $41.98 in Canada. Here's a look at the DVD cover artwork (click for a larger image), followed by the official list of the contents...

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

The Phantom Menace, mastered by THX for superior sound and picture quality, presented in Anamorphic Widescreen and Dolby 5.1 Surround EX (English), Dolby 2.0 Surround (English and Spanish), and Dolby 2.0 Surround (French, for Canadian release)

Audio commentary by Writer-Director George Lucas; Producer Rick McCallum; Co-Editor and Sound Designer Ben Burtt; Visual Effects Supervisors Scott Squires, John Knoll and Dennis Muren; and Animation Supervisor Rob Coleman, offering personal insights into the making of the film

Seven never-before-seen deleted scenes with full visual effects completed just for the DVD release

The Beginning - an all-new hour-long documentary culled from over 600 hours of footage offering unprecedented access inside Lucasfilm and ILM during the making of Episode I

Multi-angle storyboard-to-animatic-to-finished-film feature, that lets you flip through the various phases of development of key action sequences

Five behind-the-scenes featurettes exploring The Phantom Menace's storyline, designs, costumes, visual effects and fight scenes

The popular Duel of the Fates music video that debuted in 1999

All 12 parts of the Lynne's Diaries, the web documentaries that first appeared at starwars.com

Galleries of theatrical posters, print campaign, and never-before-scene production photos

Downloaded by millions from starwars.com, the original theatrical teaser and launch trailers, plus seven TV spots including the "tone poems"

We've also posted an interview with Lucasfilm's Jim Ward, who answers questions about the DVD. Don't miss it. And be sure to stay tuned to The Digital Bits home page for all the latest news on this and future Star Wars DVD releases.

MARCH 2001 UPDATE

As many of you know, last year, 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm officially announced the home video release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace for April 4th, 2000. Unfortunately, per the specific instructions of George Lucas himself, no DVD version was part of the release. We thought this was extremely unfortunate, and we were inundated with e-mail from angry Star Wars fans who were upset about this decision. We got so much e-mail, in fact, that we knew something had to be done to make Mr. Lucas aware of your feelings on this matter.

To this end, the staff here at The Digital Bits teamed up with DVD File.com and Digital Man Interactive, to launch a grass-roots effort to get your message across - The Star Wars on DVD Campaign. These are the steps we took:

To start with, we jointly published An Open Letter to George Lucas in the January 24th issue of Daily Variety (click the link to read the text). By doing so, we could be sure that the industry got the message.

Then, we took a detailed look at an Episode I bootleg DVD, as well as many of the numerous other bootleg Star Wars DVDs that were being produced illegally by pirates in Hong Kong, who were using previous laserdisc releases to create DVDs. We argued that Fox and Lucasfilm were losing tremendous amounts of money to these pirates, and that the problem would be irrelevant if only REAL DVDs were made available. The official reaction was almost immediate. The Star Wars on DVD Campaign was allowed to submit a series of questions to Lucasfilm, which quickly issued a statement about the lack of DVD releases of the Star Wars films (click here to read the full text of that statement, as well as our response). The statement was less than satisfying so, undaunted, we pushed on.

We then created an online petition to get the Star Wars films on DVD, which was maintained at DVD File. We asked that everyone who was interested in seeing these films on their favorite format sign it, and asked them to have their family and friends to do the same. The result was simply beyond our wildest expectations - more than 30,000 signatures were collected over a period of just a few weeks! The petition was closed on March 31st, 2000, and all of the signatures were sorted and forwarded to Lucasfilm. And within a couple of weeks, it became clear that, FINALLY, Lucas himself had gotten our message. On April 20th, 2000, Lucasfilm representative Jeannie Cole officially went on record with the following statement:

"Yes, Lucasfilm has officially begun work on DVDs for the Star Wars films, but it is still far too soon to know which films will be released when and what the content will be. It is up to George to decide the content of the discs, and they will not be released in 2000, nor is there any firm date beyond this year."

When we asked Cole if the campaign had an influence on Lucas' decision to start the DVD process, she had this to say:

"Absolutely! Just like the THX slogan 'The Audience Is Listening'. We're listening, and George is listening."

That same day, Lucas himself, while talking to the Kevin and Bean morning show on radio station KROQ in Los Angeles, officially confirmed that he'd initiated work on the Star Wars DVDs. He even mentioned that he had elaborate plans to include deleted scenes and TONS of other special edition materials for each film in the series.

And so it went. Throughout the rest of last year, rumors from industry sources began pouring into The Digital Bits, regarding work on the first film to be released on DVD - Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Now... fast forward to March 2001. We have confirmed that Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace will be released on DVD on October 16th, 2001. The release will be a jam-packed, 2-disc DVD special edition... and from everything we hear, it will be well worth the wait. The other films in the series are expected to follow, each as a 2-disc special edition, at a rate of about 1 film per year, until all 6 films are eventually released.

Be sure to watch The Digital Bits (and particularly our Rumor Mill section) for the latest information over the coming weeks. And look for our special reports on this first Star Wars DVD release starting this summer.

All of us who were involved in The Star Wars on DVD Campaign want to thank everyone who participated in this effort. We hope this proves once and for all that the studios DO listen to what DVD consumers have to say, and they take your opinions very seriously. Thanks to you, we'll all be enjoying The Force on DVD in time for the holidays this year!

One last note - as part of our efforts, we created a number of special graphic Messages to George Lucas, as well as a few animated buttons for people to use on their web pages to support the campaign (see the links below). Even though the campaign itself is now complete, we think you'll still get a kick out of them. We know George did!

Best wishes, thanks again... and may the Force be with you!

Bill Hunt, Editor
The Digital Bits
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com







Messages to George Lucas

Lucasfilm DVD: The audience is waiting...
Deep Inside the Lucasfilm Archives...
Got DVD?
May the Bootlegs be with You?
DVD Does Matter


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