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