It started in 1997. Millions poured into theaters to watch the beloved Star Wars Trilogy on the big screen one last time. Little did they know that Mr. Lucas was a busy little bee and had tinkered and altered several scenes in all three films. A few of the changes were welcome improvements, but most of them were, according to the core of Star Wars fandom, travesties of the highest degree. Petitions, pleas and various forms of bribery all landed on deaf ears and, since 1997, Star Wars would never be the same.
2004 marked the release of the Star Wars Trilogy release on DVD. Fans begged for a release of the original theatrical cuts of the films on DVD, but Mr. Lucas wasn’t listening. Indeed, he was still tinkering. There are a few subtle differences between the DVD versions of the original films that go beyond the changes made in the special edition cuts. Once again, some of the changes were for the better (such as adding Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine in The Empire Strikes Back). Unfortunately, others were not so welcome. Eventually Mr. Lucas did release the original theatrical cuts on DVD, but the formatting of those disks is so flawed they are hardly worth mentioning.
Jump ahead to 2011 – The Complete Star Wars Saga is just weeks away from its highly anticipated blu-ray release. As the final days draw near, we fans whisper in voices reminiscient of a battered housewife “maybe this time will be different.” Alas, if the rumors are to be believed, Mr. Lucas has been tinkering again.
Return of the Jedi
A New Hope
The Phantom Menace
UPDATE: These changes have all been confirmed by Lucasfilm. There you have it, folks.