Good news: George Lucas’s megastudio has officially unveiled plans to release two Star Wars movies in theaters during the Fall of 2013.
Bad news: Instead of the classic Star Wars trilogy or new films, the two movies scheduled to hit the big screen are Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith.
This news was revealed at the ongoing Star Wars Celebration. Think of it as something akin to Comic Con, only focused entirely on Star Wars geekery. “How much interest could there possibly be in that one, single franchise?” you wonder. Plenty, apparently, as the Celebration has been running nearly-annually since 1999, and the last American iteration of the Celebration attracted roughly 32,000 Star Wars geeks. Thus this event makes a pretty handy place for Lucasfilm to announce its latest Star Wars plans. However, it also means that in announcing such plans the company is effectively throwing itself at the mercy of fans who have been consistently burned by George Lucas’ decisions since the early 1980s. One has to imagine that there was more than one angry fan grumbling at the stage when Lucasfilm announced plans to re-release the final two entries in the most recent Star Wars film trilogy.
Whether it helps or not, Lucasfilm is updating Clones and Sith to feature 3D visuals. Of course, you may recall that the studio released a 3D version of The Phantom Menace to theaters last February. You may also recall that it was not successful, and disappeared from the local megaplexes after only a few weeks. That’s where this story gets interesting.
See, after Phantom Menace we all assumed that Clones and Sith would be re-released in 3D shortly thereafter. However, since Phantom Menace effectively tanked — though since it’s a reissue of a film that made hundreds of millions of dollars in a franchise worth billions, this isn’t really that big a deal for Lucasfilm — the company has apparently decided to alter its planned release schedule. Though we have no idea what the original plan for these 3D films was, it seems quite odd for Lucasfilm to announce that Clones and Sith would be released a mere 20 days apart. “Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith to be theatrically released in 3D back-to-back, September 20, 2013 and October 11, 2013 respectively,” reads the brief, official announcement.
Now why would Lucasfilm want to push these movies out so rapidly? Wouldn’t it make more sense to space them out and prevent the second film from cannibalizing the viewing audience for the first? Normally yes, but given that both Clones and Sith already made relatively massive profits in their original theatrical release, any money earned by these 3D versions is just icing on the cake. It would appear that Lucasfilm is releasing these two flicks so close to one another just in case they too flop as Phantom Menace did. If they’re successful, Lucasfilm picks up a nice bag of cash, but if either Sith or Clones tank at the box office Lucasfilm can just whistle innocently and move on to the next project.
Given that the next project is quite likely 3D re-releases of the original, beloved Star Wars film trilogy, we can’t blame Lucasfilm for wanting to kill time until then. The original Star Wars flicks are going to pull down massive amounts of money, regardless of when the studio wants to reissue them, so it would seem that we’re currently in a transitionary period where Lucasfilm, for the purposes of completionism (and appeasing the weird minority that actually enjoys the latter-day Star Wars movies) is pushing out all the movies necessary to set up this 3D re-release of the Star Wars series as a numerically complete hexalogy. Even if nobody wants to see Phantom Menace, Attack Of The Clones or Revenge Of The Sith, Lucasfilm is determined to release these films in their “proper” order.