News has been steadily streaming out about new “Star Wars” projects ever since George Lucas sold the rights to the property, along with Lucasfilm, to Disney. Since then a new trilogy of films has been announced, director J.J. Abrams hired to direct the first new film and the possibility revealed of a parallel story being told in the “Star Wars” universe by director Zack Snyder. For all of the new information there were some things that were getting overlooked: namely what was going to happen to the few “Star Wars” projects that were already in the works when Disney took over.
According to DigitalEdge, the projects in the pipeline can’t be stalled completely and therefore have to be considered for release at the earliest and Disney has to think about an alternative as it now has the rights for a franchise that has entertained viewers for nearly four decades.
StarWars.com has learned the fate of at least one of the previously planned projects. The site broke the story that Disney was putting the 3D re-releases of the existing “Star Wars” films on hold for the time being. In February of last year “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” was converted to 3D and released in theaters, with the intention that the remaining five films in the series would be released in the same manner in the years that followed. The choice to release the films in numerical order rather than in the order that the films themselves were released (i.e. starting with prequels rather than the original trilogy) was one that drew some criticism from fans.
The box office returns on the re-release of “Episode I” weren’t spectacular. There are certainly those that will argue it would have been more successful had “Episode IV: A New Hope” been released first. However the truth is that the trend of re-releasing older films in 3-D peaked quickly and has been tapering off rapidly. Disney did not officially cancel the 3D re-releases, but said that it would reveal its revised plans at a later date. This sound suspiciously like just a way of delaying the cancellation of these re-releases.
Disney cites wanting the focus to be on the new films as the main reason for this choice. This makes a certain amount of sense, especially since audiences would have to endure two more prequels before the films that fans truly love would have hit theaters again. It could have been damaging to the brand overall to remind theatergoers of the parts of the series that nobody cared for as much. However Disney will have to find other ways to keep “Star Wars” in the public eye between now and when the first new film is released. It’s also worth noting that even though these 3D re-releases are on hold fans can expect the new films to be in 3D as all of Disney’s major releases (including those through Marvel and Pixar) have been released in 3D.