The 'Star Wars' Films Have Been Changed Again On Blu-Ray

Most of us are aware that the entire Star Wars saga is going to be available on Blu-ray come September 16. We also know that the films on these discs will be the Special Editions, not the original versions, meaning Greedo still shoots first, Jabba still appears two films too early and a bunch of aliens still sing "Jedi Rocks." However, with the films being updated for Blu-ray, The Digital Bits is reporting that several other, minor, changes have been made to the films creating yet another evolution of the saga. George Lucas' insistence to continually change these films directly results in the consumer's proclivity to buying them, so is this really a surprise? Read about the good, and the bad, below.

The Digital Bits (via Ain't It Cool) reported on the new discs. Head there to see some photos of what I'm talking about below. We'll start with the good, then work into the – possibly – bad.

First up, the frame size on The Phantom Menace will be more complete than it was on previous releases. Meaning, where on your DVD you might not be able to see a character on the right of the frame, now you will. This is because transfer technology in 1999 wasn't as good as it is now so, in 2011, they can transfer a more complete image. Plus, the images will be cleaned up, so no subtle ghosting around certain objects.

As for the original trilogy, many things that were wrong with the 2004 DVDs have been updated. Color timing is no longer an issue as all the lightsabers have been enhanced and made more uniform. Plus, several of the cute, quirky visual mistakes in the films have been changed. For example, you will no longer be able to see the puppeteers arm on the Wampa in Empire Strikes Back.

The audio has also been significantly improved with this release, particularly in A New Hope. Apparently there were issues with the back channels and some of the score was too low in the mix, but that's all been corrected. In some cases, they even went back to the 1976 files to get the right sounds.

So far, that's all positive. Cosmetic changes that, yes, might take a way from the gruff feel of the originals but, on a high end Blu-ray release, you can forgive. But that's not all. Sit down for this one. Here's a quote from the Digital Bits article:

Once again, George has apparently added a few new "surprises" into these films. I don't know what they are and didn't get to see any of them on Friday, but I was assured that there will be "new things to notice" when we watch the films. I think we can safely assume that one of them will be the new all-digital Yoda in Episode I. Way back when Episode III was released on DVD, ILM digital effects supervisor Pablo Helman confirmed to me that the puppet Yoda in Episode I was replaced with a digital version to better match his appearance in Episodes II and III. In fact, the Episode III DVD extras includes a clip of the Episode I digital Yoda. However, this Blu-ray set is really the first opportunity we'll have to see it in full. What the other changes to these films may be, I have no idea, but I suspect there will be no lack of blog posts on this very subject within hours of the first discs becoming available to fans.

That's a potentially frightening proposition, but I tend to agree the only major change would be a digital Yoda. And whatever, I'm not going to cry about that. He wouldn't go any further, would he?

UPDATE: Bleeding Cool just published an article that basically refuting that statement. ILM specifically told them "no new material had created for the Blu-ray incarnations of the films." Hmm. Article continues.

The article continues on about the extras, revealing what they can – which isn't much at the moment – so head over there to read more, but it does say that there are new deleted scenes for all the movies, including the prequels, which is exciting.

Are you surprised that these releases are different? Are you okay with the cosmetic changes for a HD format? What surprises do you think Lucas has in store?