When George Lucas made the original Star Wars, Epidsode IV-A New Hope, he could not begin to imagine the impact that his film would have. Six Star Wars films and almost thirty years later, the original film has been named the best movie of all time by British film fans. (The entire list of rankings can be seen on the BBC's website.) Star Wars received more than a third of all of the votes in a survey conducted by the British Sky Premiere Channel, landing it in the number one spot.
This poll was taken just prior to the release of The Phantom Menace, the second Star Wars movie. Participants in the survey had the release of the next Star Wars adventure on the top of their minds (as it was released shortly after this poll was taken). Undoubdetly, this had some influence on the survey's results. While no one can detract from the astounding creativity that produced the film's empire, there is also no doubt that this list is missing several influential and key filmmakers. One of the commentators in the article expressed his surprise at some of the titles which appear on the list. This top 100 is uniquely different from many other film polls. Nonetheless, it is a definite representation of those films deemed significant by current film devotees. Star Wars has been viewed and enjoyed by an astounding number of people across generation lines. This fact helped to land it in the number one spot. Furthermore, Star Wars is known for having some of the most devoted and fanatical fans of any film. Therefore, it is no surprise that is would appear in the number one spot of a survey.
We certainly do not need a survey to prove the popularity and influence that George Lucas has had on both the film industry and his fans. However, the article and the "Best Film" designation verify the fact that there are millions of people all over the world who have seen Star Wars and feel that it is a most significant film.
There is a feeling in the industry that the technology of the future is 3-D cinema. George Lucas, head of Lucas Film and one of the most successful and revolutionary filmmakers of all time, seems a bit more hesitant. At a time when theater attendance is slipping, three dimensional projection could be a creative new way to attract an audience, particularly a youthful one. 3-D films were very popular for a short time in the 1950s. However, since then there has not been any significant attempt at rejuvenating the technology. Only recently has there been talk of a future for three dimensional cinema.
On April 3, 2005, Variety reported that George Lucas had revealed at ShoWest that he was "eager to release all six films in the ‘Star Wars' saga in digital 3-D. His plan would be to release one film a year starting in 2007." But "Trekkies" are going to have to wait a little while before they can see their movies in a third dimension. Rick McCallum, producer of Star Wars (special edition), said that the films will not be converted to 3-D until the industry "gets its act together." However, The CEO of In-Three Inc. stated that it would probably be a short time before all films can be and will be converted to 3-D. In the future, In-Three Inc. will be able to provide the technology to convert films produced in status quo format to 3-D for five million dollars.
At the time the Variety article was published in April, 2005, there were no definite plans to release any of the Star Wars films in 3-D. However, there is a distinct possibility that this may change in the very near future. Star Wars is one of the most successful, highest grossing film franchises of all time. As one of the industry's most savvy, technologically advanced filmmakers it would seem reasonable to believe that George Lucas could very well be one of the first to take advantage of the newest technology. If Lucas does make the move towards 3-D, he might be the innovator who influences other producers to do the same. The Variety article provides new information on a topic relevant to the direction in which the future film industry is moving.
The first installment of the six part Star Wars film series was released in 1977. Twenty five years later, in September 2004, the DVD's of the first trilogy ( Episode IV: A New Hope, EpisodeV, The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI, and Return of the Jedi) were released. These DVD's were not comprised of the "classic" film trilogy, but rather the "Special Edition" versions that Fox, Lucas Film and George Lucas released in 1997 (which were originally available only on VHS). Fortunately for fans who can never get enough of everything and anything Star Wars related, the DVD set is loaded with extra features. The four disc set includes a bonus disc highlighting an extraordinary documentary and never before seen footage from the making of the films. Each of the films included in the set has been digitally restored and remastered by THX. In addition to significantly enhanced picture quality, the three films are mastered in Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 EX, yielding amazing sound quality. The Star Wars trilogy can also be viewed by the deaf and non-English speaking as it is subtitled in English, French, and Spanish. All of these additions to the original films not only make the DVD's a worthwhile purchase for viewing enjoyment, but also an important addition to any serious film buff's collection.
The DVD release of the original trilogy (Episodes IV, V, and VI) represents a significant marker in the Star Wars franchise. The groundbreaking films have become an industry unto themselves and the DVD's are one more outlet through which to generate more profit. DVD's are the future of all film. The fact that one of the biggest money-making movies of all time is now distributed on DVD, with added special features, validates the importance of the DVD release. The release of films in DVD format allows the audience to watch movies multiple times. The format also introduces an entirely new audience to a film that may have been produced at a much earlier time. The possibilities for film enhancement, viewing pleasure, and portability all contribute to the significance of the DVD as it relate to the Star Wars franchise.
Dolby is the sound technology responsible for enhancing the audio portion of movies. Star Wars is the film with which we associate Dolby's first major sound breakthrough. This innovative technology created the sound of the Millenium Falcon "whooshing" over the heads of the audience (in Star Wars Episode IV). Dolby has heightened the quality of what we hear in movies since the pivotal 1997 Star Wars film. This article demonstrates that the enjoyment of the visual as well as the audio aspect of film has been revolutionized by the introduction of Dolby sound.
Bill Jasper, chief executive of Dolby laboratories, has set out to expand Dolby's markets and solve the financial problems the company has been experiencing in the past several years. When Dolby gave its input to the original Star Wars movie, the sound quality changed the industry and wowed audiences. However, today, it takes a lot more to impress a jaded consumer. Advanced technology permeates our everyday lives and it is a constant struggle to stay ahead. With the current push for digital cinema, it would appear to present an opportunity for Dolby to command the market. However, the industry will not accept "a Dolby proprietary system." The industry demands an "open" system. Dolby's solution is to work on better compression. That is something the company could sell. Dolby has done a significant amount of work to showcase technological innovations for Disney in the new film Chicken Little. However, installation of new technology is not the mark for which Dolby wants to be known. Instead, CEO Bill Jasper wants to sell "mastering technology and theater hardware." Dolby currently has stiff competition from several other companies, but was faced with a similar scenario when digital audio was introduced. Today, Dolby has eighty percent of that market.
Dolby is a company whose success and profitability is dependent on innovation. Star Wars Episode IV-A New Hope was a revolutionary film partly due to Dolby's audio contributions. Dolby is looking to the future, hoping to realize similar success in the visual market.
This article, by Clive Thompson, argues that the new film, Star Wars Revelations, a forty minute $20,000 budget film made by Star Wars fans, is better than any film made by George Lucas. Thompson's view is that, despite the impressive size of Lucas' budget for the Star Wars franchise or his aptitude for special effects, the creative minds of the fans turn out a better product time after time. Star Wars Revelations is just one example.
Lucas is no longer making new Star Wars films for his ravenous fans to enjoy. As a result, the numerous fans around the world have taken to making their own sequels/prequels. These fans are doing more than just filling the void; they are doing a better job than the Star Wars creator. The special effects are comparable to those developed by George Lucas. Additionally, these are not small films only accessible to a relatively small audience. It is estimated that in one week, one million people will see Star Wars Revelations - without any promotion or marketing effort. The widespread success of the film is based solely on the devotion of the Star Wars fans and the widespread reach of the internet.
Lucas has always encouraged fan produced films. However, he has stipulated one condition: these fan filmmakers cannot attempt to make a profit from their creations based on Lucas' genius idea. While films such as Star Wars Revolutions are widely circulated and astonishingly high-tech, there are still two major problems with all fan films - the second rate scriptwriting and acting. Thus, even with all of the success of fan films, there will always be an opening for George Lucas to return with one of his professionally made additions to the Star Wars series. Some might suggest that the fan films are better than the authentic Star Wars. However, with two significant problems plaguing fan films, fans can attempt to fill the void, but their productions will never compare to those of the irreplaceable George Lucas.