‘Star Wars’ Blu-rays Coming With Unreleased Footage, But What’s Left To Mine?!

If you read this blog with any regularity, then you know that one thing I absolutely cannot pass on is an opportunity to talk about “Star Wars.” The news today is a doozy too. At long last, Lucasfilm has confirmed that the series — both the more recent prequels and the classic original trilogy — will get a high definition Blu-ray release.

About. Damn. Time.

Lucasfilm’s Steven Sansweet confirmed the upcoming release over the weekend at C2E2 in Chicago. “We have been at work for a couple of years working on—I won’t call it the Ultimate Set because we keep finding stuff—but, a very full set of all six movies on Blu-ray with lots of extra material,” he revealed to IGN. “We’re finding all kinds of scenes from dailies that have never been seen before. Beyond all of those things that you know about… there are some real treasures.”

Very interesting, this talk of treasures and scenes that have never been seen. There’s a lot of “Star Wars” material out there that’s never made its way to an official release. Some of it was just written and/or storyboarded. Some was shot. There’s even a bit that’s leaked over the years. So what might we see in terms of “lost treasures in the planned Blu-ray release?

Most “Star Wars” fans know about the deleted material in “Episode IV: A New Hope.” There is of course the famed Boba Fett/Jabba the Hutt bit, which was actually restored for the ’90s special edition release of the film. There’s also a fair bit more material from Tatooine, showing us a little bit of Luke’s social life there and his aspirations for leaving the remote dustball behind.

What most people don’t know about is the range of material that was left out of the subsequent two films, “Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.” The Hoth portion of “Empire” was originally quite a bit longer, featuring a wampa attack on Echo Base, another Luke and Leia kiss (ew) and an incident in which Luke must operate a stationary blaster cannon.

As for Jedi, there’s a fair amount of lost material, starting with the construction of Luke’s lightsaber, which he hides away inside of R2-D2 before sending the droid off with C-3P0 as “gifts” for Jabba the Hutt. There’s also some more Boba Fett, some more Leia ass-kicking aboard Jabba’s Sail Barge and a bit on Tatooine involving a sandstorm. What’s more, the big space fight at the end of the movie features more of General Madine, as well as a third character aboard the Millennium Falcon, operating the top turret: Airen Cracken.

It’s also reasonable to believe — or at least hope — that Blu-ray tech’s branching features and increased storage space will allow for theatrical cuts of the three original movies to be included on the discs. A lot of fans were left dissatisfied by the changes made to the ’90s special edition releases, particularly infamous Greedo shooting first scene in “A New Hope” and the CG-fueled music dance video at Jabba’s Palace.

And hey, Lucasfilm: if you weren’t planning on issuing the theatrical cuts, please reconsider. There’s something to be said for creator George Lucas having his own ideas about how the stories should unfold in subsequent takes on the series, and there’s even an argument to be made in favor of the special edition treatments. However, the original theatrical releases of these films are just as much a part of cinema’s history than anything else; the revisionist attitude of wanting to wipe those from the viewing public’s memory is just plain wrong, whatever the original vision might have been.