There are many aspects of the Star Wars franchise that make it a unique and special beast in the film industry, but part of that is its own kind of liquid existence. As beloved as the Original Trilogy was upon its initial release, George Lucas famously went back and did “Special Edition” passes for the 20th anniversary of the series in the late 1990s (not to mention various edits done for various home video releases), and there have even been some touch-ups done on the Prequel Trilogy over the years.
Those were decisions made by George Lucas during his time controlling the Star Wars franchise, but it does raise an interesting question: could we someday see new versions of the recent Sequel Trilogy developed and released? No one could say for certain at this point, but one thing we know for now is that it’s not really a pursuit that is of interest to director J.J. Abrams.
I had the opportunity to sit down with the filmmaker last week during the Los Angeles press day for Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, and after a discussion about the larger role of Carrie Fisher’s General Leia Organa in the upcoming blockbuster, the subject of Special Editions was raised. I asked him if he felt like new edits of the Sequel Trilogy would potentially be on the table two decades down the road, and explained,
I don't think so. I respect anyone who feels like they want to go back and adjust and add; I get that. But I also feel like it's not the way I think about projects - which is to say I feel like you're done with a thing, and that's what it is. Maybe in 20 years I'll feel different, but I can't imagine feeling different about it.
One can certainly understand J.J. Abrams’ perspective on this matter, as it’s a perspective that’s shared by a lot of filmmakers. While there are many directors who like to tinker with their past works – with George Lucas joined in that philosophy by people like Ridley Scott and Francis Ford Coppola – others very much mean it when they say that a picture is locked. The latter group happens to include Abrams as a member, which means that the chances of us seeing a Special Edition version of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy are slim.
It is worth noting that this could ultimately be for the best, if not just because the Special Editions of the Original Trilogy are considered just a tad controversial. There certainly are things to appreciate in the edits, and the whole conversation would be much less heated if the theatrically released versions of the movies were made available, but there are also elements that many fans truly hate – such as Greedo taking a shot at Han Solo before being killed in A New Hope, and the horrible ear cancer that is played as music in the Jabba’s Palace sequence of Return of the Jedi.
Really the only significant downside is that Special Editions of the Sequel Trilogy could provide the opportunity to reveal never-before-seen deleted material – but that can just be done with anniversary-timed home video releases.
It seems for now we’ll just have to make do with the theatrical versions of the Sequel Trilogy, which, of course, is concluding this week. Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker will be playing on the big screen worldwide starting this Friday, and be sure to keep coming back to CinemaBlend, as we’ll not only have our review and plenty of feature and video content, but stories from my interviews with the film’s cast!