29 September 2010

Prepare for the Jump to 3D

Maybe the reason the Mayan calendar doesn't go into 2012 is that they foresaw that was when George Lucas would plan to begin releasing the Star Wars movies in 3D.  This would begin shortly after the late 2011 Blu-ray Disc release of the entire series with The Phantom Menace and continue annually until 2017 with the release of Return of the Jedi..

Despite his recent claim that he was inspired to do this by the success of Avatar, this was a project Lucas declared as something he wanted to do several years ago.  I could be mistaken, but I believe it was even discussed before Revenge of the Sith opened.  I was under the impression that Lucas already had ILM hard at work readying the original films for 3D.

Reports also indicate that the release of the whole series is also contingent upon the success of The Phantom Menace in 2012.  Lucas will use its box office take as a barometer for determining whether to continue releasing the remainder of the series theatrically.  Even if this doesn't pan out (and it's hard to imagine fans not attending a re-release of any of these movies), it's pretty clear that Lucas's ultimate goal is to have Star Wars ready should 3D TV's and Blu-ray players penetrate the market the way manufacturers hope.  Which, really, is strange because this is the same guy who really resisted releasing these movies on DVD, showing a lack of faith in the format at a time when it had much more support than does 3D.

Digital 3D should be easy for the Prequels
Critics hate 3D with an outspoken passion, and their chief complaint is that most films released in 3D were not filmed in 3D, but rather tweaked in post-production.  I would think that the prequels (especially the last two, which were filmed digitally for the express purpose of maximizing his ability to doctor the footage afterwards) were made with this eventuality in mind.  In fact, they seem perfect for it, since only the principle actors and a handful of props and partial sets were even real in the first place.  It would seem fairly easy to substitute new 3D elements for the previous digital content.

Before anyone dismisses the Star Wars 3D re-releases as another after-the-fact conversion project, let's not forget this is George Lucas.  If anyone in the world has the will--and the resources--to make this work, it's him.  This is, after all, the guy who founded Industrial Light & Magic because no other effects house was capable of delivering what he wanted for the first film.  Attack of the Clones was the first motion picture filmed entirely digitally because he believed that the technology would revolutionize the shooting process.  This 3D plan is not one of artistry, but of technology.  And because of that, I believe it will work.

And, really, who among us doesn't want to see lightsaber duels in 3D?

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