Click here to learn more about anamorphic widescreen!
Go to the Home Page
Go to The Rumor Mill
Go to Todd Doogan's weekly column
Go to the Reviews Page
Go to the Trivia Contest Page
Go to the Upcoming DVD Artwork Page
Go to the DVD FAQ & Article Archives
Go to our DVD Links Section
Go to the Home Theater Forum for great DVD discussion
Find out how to advertise on The Digital Bits

Site created 12/15/97.



The Digital Bits logo
page created: 2/16/00

Please visit our sponsors!

Lucasfilm Responds to the
Star Wars on DVD Campaign


Lucasfilm allowed The Star Wars on DVD Campaign to submit a number of questions to them about the DVD issue, which they agreed to answer. The following is their official response, which was published on the official Star Wars website today. You will find our comments below, along with the original 10 questions we submitted:

Why Delay DVD?

February 17, 2000 -- Lucasfilm greatly appreciates the enthusiasm of our fans of the Star Wars movies and their passion to see the films in the best possible format, as demonstrated by various campaigns by fans asking for an immediate release of Star Wars on DVD. Unfortunately, Lucasfilm cannot stop work on Episode II in order to concentrate on the DVD release at this time.

There is no plan to release any of the Star Wars films on DVD for the foreseeable future and definitely not this year. George Lucas would like to do something special with the DVD release and unfortunately he does not have time to concentrate on the DVD project at this time. George is currently working on the script for Episode II and preparing for principal photography that will begin this summer in Australia. The films will definitely be released on DVD. It's just that we don't yet know when.

George Lucas is deeply committed to the quality presentation of his films. In fact, Lucasfilm's THX group is solely dedicated to sound and visual presentation in theatres as well as homes. George started the division in 1983 as a result of his frustration that audiences were not able to enjoy Return of the Jedi as he had created it. Many of the sounds that Ben Burtt and his team had worked so hard to create were being lost in poor quality theaters. Since that time the division has expanded into a multitude of programs dedicated to superior quality including the TAP (Theater Alignment Program) program, Home THX, and the THX Digital Mastering Program for entertainment software.

Lucasfilm's delay in putting the Star Wars movies out on the DVD format has nothing to do with the format itself. It is simply a matter of time and availability on the part of George and his creative team at Lucasfilm.

Lucasfilm is very concerned about pirated DVD copies of Star Wars, but finds any suggestion that a delayed official release is an encouragement to bootleg is absurd. Filmmakers are the victims of piracy--not the cause of it. We need to be able to release the DVD when we're ready with the material. Our creative decisions should not be dictated by pirates. Bootlegged copies are against the law. They are inferior and do not even come close to meeting any standard of quality presentation. Anyone viewing a bootlegged copy of Star Wars is contributing to the overall piracy problem that the MPAA is fighting daily and globally.

As many know, while a Laserdisc version of The Phantom Menace will be released in Japan due to market considerations, there is nothing digital on a Laserdisc except for the soundtrack. While a bootlegged DVD copy from this format would be superior to VHS, it would still not equal the DVD format.

Rumors and speculation that waiting to release DVD versions is motivated by a desire to simply drive up demand, or to force fans to purchase multiple copies are completely false.


So that's what Lucasfilm has to say. Here are our comments to their response...

OUR COMMENTS

First of all, we find it difficult to believe that there is no one, in the entire vast organization that is Lucasfilm, who isn't working on Episode II. Does Lucas really need to be intimately involved in the DVD production? Why can't he pick a handful of creative individuals on his staff, and task them with developing high-quality, movie-only DVD versions of these films. He can approve or disapprove their efforts until he's happy - simple. And if it's true that Lucas and his staff really ARE all too busy, surely Lucasfilm could hire a small team of outside talent to work on a DVD release of these films. The argument that "Lucasfilm cannot stop work on Episode II in order to concentrate on the DVD release at this time" is hard to fathom.

Also troubling is this statement: "Lucasfilm is very concerned about pirated DVD copies of Star Wars, but finds any suggestion that a delayed official release is an encouragement to bootleg is absurd." Not according to the MPAA. We've dealt with the MPAA several times in recent months on the issue of bootleg DVDs, even going so far as to bring copies of Titanic and Disney animated films on pirated DVDs to their offices for up-close examination (here's are some links to our stories on bootleg DVDs of Episode I, Titanic and the Disney animated films). More than once, the MPAA has told us quite frankly, that these discs wouldn't be such a problem if the studios would become more active in releasing authorized copies of highly sought-after titles on DVD. Period.

And why not release movie-only DVD editions of the Star Wars films now? It would stem the piracy problem, it would satisfy demand by the fans, and it would certainly not keep anyone from buying Lucas' super special edition DVD boxed set in 2006! Lucas has never shown a hesitation to release multiple versions of his films on home video before. How many different copies of Star Wars do you own on VHS? There have been at least 4 different VHS releases by my count, and at least 4 different laserdisc editions too. And word is that the Star Wars Trilogy is going to be released on VHS AGAIN in the fall of this year! But still... no DVD? Something's fishy here...

Here's another problem: "As many know, while a Laserdisc version of The Phantom Menace will be released in Japan due to market considerations, there is nothing digital on a Laserdisc except for the soundtrack. While a bootlegged DVD copy from this format would be superior to VHS, it would still not equal the DVD format." True, but since all we're apparently going to get here in the States is VHS, what's to stop people from paying $15 for the bootleg? And why NOT release a laserdisc here in the States?

"Rumors and speculation that waiting to release DVD versions is motivated by a desire to simply drive up demand, or to force fans to purchase multiple copies are completely false." Well... given Lucasfilm's vast resources, and the fact that there are no DVDs planned (and no laserdiscs of Episode I either), it's hard to see things in any other way. At least that's what we're hearing from many thousands of Star Wars fans...

Well, those are our thoughts. Here are the original 10 questions that we submitted to Lucasfilm. As you can see, many remain unanswered.

OUR ORIGINAL 10 QUESTIONS

1. The DVD commitment at Lucasfilm is something of a mystery to our readers. To date, only American Graffiti and Radioland Murders have been released on the format. Given that there are now some 5.6 million DVD players in the U.S. alone, what is Lucas waiting for? What's accomplished by waiting aside from frustrating fans?

2. Recent high profile home video releases from Lucasfilm, such as The Indiana Jones Trilogy and the upcoming Episode I, are VHS-only. Given Mr. Lucas' commitment to the superior presentation quality of his films in theaters and at home (through THX and other avenues), why has he chosen to release his best films on only the least-quality home video medium currently available?

3. The Indiana Jones laserdiscs that had been expected were recently cancelled, and there is no laserdisc of Episode I planned for the States. Why is this? And what are high-end home theater fans of these films expected to do?

4. Director Steven Spielberg has recently demonstrated his commitment to DVD by allowing the release of a movie-only version of Saving Private Ryan, and he has several other favorites planned for DVD in 2000. Millions of consumers would be extremely happy to have a similar versions of the Star Wars films on DVD, as long as they included anamorphic widescreen and full Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. In fact, many are BEGGING for such a release. Why not release even Episode I now in such a fashion?

5. Quotes from Rick McCallum in recent weeks have stated that George is busy writing Episode II, and so doesn't have time to participate in the production of DVDs. But this argument doesn't make much sense to our readers. Some of the most creative people in the industry are working at ILM and Lucasfilm. Why not simply put 5 or 10 talented staffers in a room, and ask them to come up with ideas for DVDs which Lucas could approve?

6. Lucas has said that he wants to wait until all his films are done, so that he can release a 6-disc boxed set on "blue laser" DVD. Blue laser means hi-definition DVD - a format which doesn't even exist, and may not for years to come. And when it does finally happen, it will not be backwards compatible with current players. Does that mean that Lucas plans to skip the DVD format entirely with his films, preferring instead to wait for an eventual HD-DVD format?

7. There are rumors of yet ANOTHER VHS release of the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition in the fall of this year. Given that Lucas seems to have no problem with multiple VHS releases, why wouldn't he want to take advantage of DVD in this same way?

8. Is Lucas aware of the Star Wars on DVD Campaign, and what is his reaction to it? Does he really know how anxious his most loyal fans are for the Star Wars films on DVD?

9. Since there is no legitimate DVD product for consumers to buy, video pirates in Asia have had a field day with the Star Wars films, creating numerous bootleg copies of the films on DVD. They're easily available on the Internet, they're fairly inexpensive, and some are of surprisingly good quality compared to VHS. What's more, LOTS of people are buying them, meaning that lots of people who would gladly pay more for official copies are lining the pockets of pirates instead. Why not stem this problem with authorized DVD editions? Is Lucas even aware that the bootlegs exist? We'll be happy to show them to him...

10. Why release Episode I to laserdisc ONLY in Asia, especially given the fact that such laserdiscs were the SOURCE of the bootleg DVDs? Does Lucas realize that by doing this, a good quality Episode I DVD bootleg will surely be mastered from the laserdisc, and will probably be available by the end of the summer?


Back to the Campaign page



E-mail the Bits!

Please visit our sponsors!
Don't #!@$ with the Monkey! Site designed for 800 x 600 resolution, using 16M colors and .gif 89a animation.
© 1997-2002 The Digital Bits, Inc., All Rights Reserved.
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com