Disney dropped a bombshell on us all last night when they announced the entire Star Wars movie collection would be released digitally this Friday. Now that the news has percolated through the interwebz, here’s a handy guide to the 5 things we know.
1. The movies come out globally on Friday, April 10
All three Star Wars movies (and those three prequel things) are being released simultaneously this Friday. This is bizarre for a few reasons:
- Digital movies usually come out with DVDs on Tuesdays. DVDs and Blu-Rays have been out a while for the series, so there was no obvious reason to tie them to Tuesday, but it’s still a bit odd to have such in-demand content come out on a Friday.
- Very short lead time. Fans have already seen these movies, of course. And there probably isn’t a huge demographic of people-who-were-waiting-to-see-the-Star-Wars-saga-when-it-finally-came-out-digitally. So maybe this didn’t need the standard marketing run-up of other movies. Still, it seems a bit…rushed.
- Global release. That’s a bit more common with digital movies these days, but it’s still a strange sight to see a global release. Perhaps the ubiquity of the saga and previously released version makes this less strategic.
2. Disney is making Star Wars fight Marvel
The movies are being release for digital download only on Friday. The people most interested in this are Star Wars fans who want a digital version, meaning they are connected to the cloud or streaming devices that allow them to watch digital movies.
What percentage of those people do you think also have a Netflix subscription? And of those people, how many are already interested in watching the Daredevil series which also launches on Friday, April 10?
Disney is totally making Star Wars and Marvel fight for its affection.
3. There is some new content
Star Wars fans typically already have the movies already. Maybe they have the Blu-Rays. Or the DVDs. Or the VCR tapes. And the LaserDiscs. And a bootleg or two. And some archived fan edits. But for even the most hardcore fans (hi, James!) there is still some new content on these digital releases. Each movie contains two features that haven’t been released. One is a series called Conversations which has interviews with collaborators on the saga. Another is a series called Discoveries From Inside, more of a behind the scenes look for each film.
It is a total coincidence that Conversations and Discoveries From Inside are also the names of the two series I had to watch for sex education in middle school.
Here’s the full list of new content if you’re interested, but also know that the official StarWars.com announcement says that these offerings may differ by retailer so be sure to see if iTunes or Amazon or wherever you buy actually has these features. There’s also a list of legacy content, or bonus material that was previously available but is also included in these releases.
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
- Conversations: Doug Chiang Looks Back
- Discoveries From Inside: Models & Miniatures
- Legacy content includes “The Beginning”; The Podrace: Theatrical Edit; plus eight deleted scenes.
Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- Conversations: Sounds In Space
- Discoveries From Inside: Costumes Revealed
- Legacy content includes “From Puppets To Pixels: Digital Characters In Episode II”; State Of The Art: The Previsualization Of Episode II; and “Films Are Not Released, They Escape”; plus Episode II Visual Effects Breakdown Montage and six deleted scenes.
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Conversations: The Star Wars That Almost Was
- Discoveries From Inside: Hologram & Bloopers
- Legacy content includes documentaries “Within A Minute: The Making Of Episode III”; The Journey Part 1; and The Journey Part 2; plus six deleted scenes.
Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope (20th Century Fox)
- Conversations: Creating A Universe
- Discoveries From Inside: Weapons & The First Lightsaber
- Legacy content includes “Anatomy Of A Dewback”; Star Wars Launch Trailer; plus eight deleted scenes.
Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
- Conversations: The Lost Interviews
- Discoveries From Inside: Matte Paintings Unveiled
- Legacy content includes “A Conversation With The Masters” (2010); “Dennis Muren: How Walkers Walk”; “George Lucas On Editing The Empire Strikes Back1979”; and “George Lucas On The Force: 2010”; plus six deleted scenes.
Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- Conversations: The Effects
- Discoveries From Inside: The Sounds Of Ben Burtt
- Legacy content includes “Classic Creatures: Return Of The Jedi”; “Revenge Of The Jedi Teaser Trailer”; Return Of The Jedi Launch Trailer; “It Began TV Spot”; “Climactic Chapter TV Spot”; plus five deleted scenes.
4. Disney and Fox worked together
This is a bit inside baseball but it’s still huge news for Star Wars fans. True fans know that 20th Century Fox has the distribution rights for A New Hope in perpetuity. Lucasfilms (and now Disney) has the rights to the other two movies (plus those three wastes of time). So whenever Lucas wanted to do a box set he needed 20th Century Fox to play along. Which was probably fine because Lucas and 20th Century Fox had a great relationship. Those drums and searchlights for the 20th Century Fox opener are as much a part of the Star Wars movie watching experience as that sparkly green Lucas thing ever was (even more so).
When Disney bought Lucasfilms and announced the new movies fans realized that 20th Century Fox wouldn’t be distributing these new films–distribution is a lot of money and Disney has their own distributors. That probably upset 20th a bit and made us all nervous that there was no way Disney would be able to work with them for any new releases (new edits, digital, etc.). But then this happened–the two sides can totally play together! That’s a big relief.
5. Ryan will buy all three movies the day they come out.
Duh. And yes, all THREE.