The success of Avatar has convinced George Lucas to re-release all six films in his Star Wars franchise with 3D conversions. It was announced by Lucasfilm Ltd. on September 28.
"There are few movies that lend themselves more perfectly to 3D; from the Death Star trench run to the Tatooine Podrace, the Star Wars Saga has always delivered an entertainment experience that is completely immersive," said the statement.
Lucas is convinced that higher-end conversion technology is now state-of-the-art, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and his special effects company, Industrial Light & Magic, will supervise cutting-edge process.
The 1999 installment Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace will be the first film to be released in 2012. The story tells of the evil Trade Federation led by Nute Gunray that seeks to take over the peaceful world of Naboo. The film stars Natalie Portman, Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor.
The remaining films will roll out one per year, with the original Star Wars film opening in 2015. It takes about one year to carefully complete the conversion from 2D films to 3D. A Lucasfilm spokesperson told Variety that each movie would open worldwide as close to the same day and date as possible.
This confirms rumors that the director has been planning to turn the films into 3D in an effort to introduce the franchise to another young audience. Lucas has awaited a sufficient number of available screens to create a significant launch event. The number of US locations 3D theaters (currently 2,000 to 2,500) will rise, with cinemas adding 3D screens at the rate of 500 each month.
The poor quality of 3D conversion, with film such as Clash of the Titans, which was rushed in post-production, have garnered criticism of "fake" 3D. But considering the pioneering visuals that Lucasfilms produces, the expectations are high for the "makeover" of this sci-fi series.
Another film that converted its series into 3D is Toy Story, which re-released the first two installments in anticipation of Toy Story 3 in 3D this past summer. When re-released, Toy Story and Toy Story 2 earned $32,284,600 in five weeks. Toy Story 3 surpassed $1 billion at the box office worldwide in August.
If the campaign is successful at the box office, it could mean other series, notably the Harry Potter films and other franchises, might convert previous films to 3D for re-release and special packaged sets.
Lucas also plans a Blu-ray Disc set of the six films next year, which will include deleted scenes and special features. In addition, by the time the 3D versions are ready for television viewing, a sufficient number of 3D televisions will be available.