Already among the best-selling titles of 2004 -- more than four months before its release -- the Star Wars Trilogy comes to DVD for the first time ever on Sept. 21 (pre-order here) in the U.S. and Canada, with international release dates following closely.
No. 1 on Amazon.com's best-seller lists in the U.S., Canada, Germany and the U.K., the four-disc DVD set from Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is priced at $69.98 SRP and includes more than 10 hours of entertainment and extraordinary picture and sound quality.
"Knowing how excited 'Star Wars' fans are about this release, we're working very hard to make the films look and sound spectacular and to deliver a DVD collection that will be truly memorable," said Jim Ward, Vice President of Marketing and Distribution at Lucasfilm Ltd., and the DVD's executive producer.
Available in both widescreen and full-frame formats in the U.S. (and widescreen only internationally), the three films in the Star Wars Trilogy -- "Episode IV A New Hope," "Episode V The Empire Strikes Back" and "Episode VI Return of the Jedi" -- have been newly restored and remastered by renowned Lowry Digital Images and are presented with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX. Each film also includes new commentary by George Lucas and cast and crew members, including director Irvin Kershner, actress Carrie Fisher, sound designer Ben Burtt and Industrial Light & Magic's Dennis Muren.
A fourth disc in the collection includes an additional four hours of added-value material that brings remarkable new depth and insight into the making of the three films and the broader "Star Wars Saga."
The cornerstone of this fourth disc is "Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy." The two-and-a-half hour documentary traces the evolution of "Star Wars" from a low-budget, labor-of-love space saga to a movie phenomenon that defied the odds and reinvented the rules. At its core, "Empire of Dreams" tells the story of an independent filmmaker who had to innovate and invent an entirely new way of creating motion pictures.
Featuring all-new interviews with Lucas and more than 40 members of the cast and crew from all three films, "Empire of Dreams" also includes appearances by a host of filmmakers and media personalities, along with never-before-seen, behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the three films. This new documentary brings viewers the most comprehensive look at a pioneer who triumphed against the odds to create an enduring modern fairy tale that has captivated the world.
Additionally, the fourth bonus disc offers a host of other exciting features, including:
* "Episode III Behind the Scenes Preview: The Return of Darth Vader" - No other villain is as iconic as Darth Vader, a symbol of doom since his first appearance on movie screens in 1977, who remains a permanent part of popular culture. Finally, "Star Wars: Episode III" will reveal just how Anakin Skywalker became the feared Sith Lord. In this exclusive preview, George Lucas discusses Anakin's descent, while viewers will get a first look at the new Vader costume forged for Episode III and will experience first-hand how Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor have prepared for the epic lightsaber battle that has been anticipated for more than two decades: the climactic showdown between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
* "The Birth of the Lightsaber(TM)" - Its unforgettable hum and scintillating glow are instantly recognizable around the world, and now viewers will discover the origins of this elegant weapon from a more civilized age. This documentary, devoted to the lightsaber, features insight from George Lucas, cast and crew into the history of the iconic laser sword. It showcases the genesis of the lightsaber stunt and special-effects work and illustrates how each film in the Star Wars saga has surpassed the previous one with spectacular action set pieces featuring the Jedi's most trusted weapon.
* "The Characters of Star Wars" - An in-depth look at how favorite characters came to be, featuring rare concept art, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with George Lucas and the cast and crew who shaped the screen's favorite heroes - Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO - and the greatest villain of all, Darth Vader.
* "The Force Is With Them: The Legacy of Star Wars" - "Star Wars" opened up a galaxy of possibilities to a generation of filmmakers and creative talents. Viewers will hear first-hand from some of the most notable filmmakers of our time about how influential the "Star Wars" movies have been to their lives.
* "Star Wars Battlefront(TM) Trailer and Playable Demo" - Now that the greatest "Star Wars" battles are on DVD, video game players can live them like never before in the new video game "Star Wars: Battlefront" from LucasArts, available for PlayStation®2, Xbox® and PC-CD. The "Star Wars Trilogy" DVD will offer a trailer featuring an exciting look at the video game, along with a special demo for Xbox users that lets users fight the Battle of Endor as a Rebel or Imperial soldier and drive AT-STs, ride speeder bikes and use different weapons to lead their side to victory. The full version of "Star Wars Battlefront" will also be released Sept. 21 for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, Xbox® video game system from Microsoft, and PC.
* "Star Wars: Episode III Making the Game Preview" - Video-game players will be able to experience the stunning Jedi action of "Episode III" themselves in the new "Star Wars: Episode III" game. This special feature shows how game developers at LucasArts worked behind-the-scenes and on the set to create the most authentic Jedi experience ever. The "Star Wars: Episode III" game will be available in Spring 2005 for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system and Xbox® video game system from Microsoft.
* "Original Trailers and TV Spots" - The original theatrical teaser, launch and re-release trailers for each film, plus TV spots, are featured on the DVD.
* "Never-Before-Seen Production Gallery" - DVD owners will delve into an unseen corner of the Lucasfilm Archives with exclusive photos from the making of the "Star Wars Trilogy," traveling from Tunisia to England, Norway, Arizona and back to California.
* "Posters and Print Campaigns" - The original releases of the "Star Wars Trilogy" films came at a time when international campaigns produced a wealth of intriguing, alternative poster art. Viewers can explore a collection of theatrical posters from around the world.
* "Exclusive DVD-ROM Content" - The "Star Wars Trilogy" DVDs are keys that unlock exclusive content available only through a special DVD-ROM website. In addition, the DVD offers a link to starwars.com, the official "Star Wars" destination on the Web, which provides daily features and updates on the continuing "Star Wars" saga.
Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope was originally released in 1977 and has a running time of 125 minutes. Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980 and is 135 minutes. Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi was released in 1983 and has a running time of 130 minutes. All three films have been rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America and are rated PG in Canada.