Posted by: jgurner | April 20, 2010

The ol’ Star Wars Blu(-ray)es

The announcement that Blu-ray versions of the Star Wars movies are in the works is no real surprise to me. It was interesting to hear, however, that they are expected sooner rather than later, especially since the Star Wars DVDs were so slow to emerge. I still expected some years to pass before they came around.

This does bring up, however, that age-old dilemma of just how much more money I’m willing to give George Lucas.

I won’t even pretend that I won’t be rushing out to buy the complete Star Wars ultra special mega edition six movie Blu-ray set when it hits the stores, because I will. I’ve done it every time a “new” version of the films has been released and it will mark the fifth time I will have purchased the original series – previously three times on videocassette, once on DVD.

But, this is not about format switching. I won’t get Star Wars simply because it’ll be on Blu-ray. No, I know Lucas will pack something in there that I just have to have. Maybe it will be scenes cut from the theatrical versions that haven’t been already added back in to some special edition or another. Maybe it’ll be an option to watch either the theatrical versions or the special versions without having to buy two separate products. Maybe it’ll be new CGI or yet another Ewok song.

Who knows.

But I do know it will be something that will both make the universe a little more complete and that I will also complain about vehemently.

Lucas, more than anyone, has the ability to get me to spend my money on the same thing over and over – namely the Star Wars saga. Of course, I’ve bought the Indiana Jones trilogy twice, once on video and once on DVD. Haven’t seen the need to go to Blu-ray and don’t even want to own The Crystal Skull. Hell, I’ve even paid for Howard the Duck twice – videocassette and DVD. Three times if you count going to see it in the theater.

And it’s funny, because I haven’t really done the same for my real obsession – Star Trek. Long before Star Wars, I was a Trekkie. I love Star Wars, but Trek is my religion. Just look at the number of phasers, tricorders and action figures I have squirreled away in my toy box. I haven’t watched a Star Wars movie in ages but I’m watching DS9 for the umpteenth time since it came out on DVD.

But, comparatively speaking, I’ve put little effort into amassing Trek on video as opposed to Star Wars. I bought the first six TOS movies on videocassette and then later on DVD. All the TNG movies are on DVD. The only Trek I have on Blu-ray is the new Star Trek movie. I only have TOS and DS9 on DVD and only had a very few episodes of TNG and TOS on videocassette.

Part of it is Trek is so ubiquitous. It’s almost always on somewhere. TNG and Enterprise on The Sci-fi Channel, DS9 and Voyager on Spike, TOS on Nick at Night (I think). And almost all of them showing up on some channel or another at different times in syndication. Plus, Trek has gotten to the point where it’s an investment. While the price for the individual seasons has come down drastically, you’re still talking about buying 29 seasons of the five different shows (30 if you count the animated series, which I do.) Then you’ve got 11 movies – if you count The Final Frontier and Nemesis, which I sort of do.

A conservative estimate of the cost of buying everything Trek on DVD is more than $1,500. If you get it on Blu-ray, right now only the movies and TOS are available and just those are going to cost you well over $300. Meanwhile, you get all six Star Wars movies for just over $60 on DVD. And I imagine the Blu-ray set for all six will run under $100.

But, more than price, Lucas does with Star Wars something that Paramount has never really done with Star Trek: He gives you a reason to buy a new version when you have a perfectly good version sitting on your shelf. Maybe it’s just a couple of minutes of additional scenes, like the ones in the video on the Ain’t It Cool News link, added back into the movie. Or maybe it’s enhanced CGI and special effects, but it’s a new reason to want THE MOVIE. It’s not just a couple of new studio produced documentaries or blooper reels tacked onto a second DVD.

My biggest complaint about Trek is that’s exactly what they do. They put on a new series of four-minute clips of Trek stars saying how great it was to work on the series and how brilliant Roddenberry was and they slap “special edition” on it. For the Blu-ray movies, they didn’t even bother to do a true HD transfer, except for Wrath of Khan, and then they only did the theatrical edition and not the extended edition available on DVD.

So, here’s a clue Paramount, if you want to be able to bleed me dry like Lucas does, take a cue from his playbook. FIRST, do true HD transfers of the films, clean ’em up and put them on Blu-ray. Then, offer the theatrical releases and the extended versions on the same disc. THEN, give me some perks. Add in Shatner’s orbital skydive in Generations. Tweek some special effects here and there. Give Shatner the money to finish The Final Frontier like he wanted and let him do a Director’s Cut. Or do a fans’ cut of Nemesis, which would mean the entire movie is eliminated from Trek cannon.

Throw me a bone here.

But, I’m not holding my breath.

So, in the meantime, I’ll just make out this blank check to George Lucas and wait, I’m guessing until a month or so before Christmas. And, in a few years, I’m sure I’ll be writing this exact same blog entry again…

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