After more than five years of teasing, Lucasfilm disclosed today that work is under way on converting the “Star Wars” saga to 3D.
All six pics will get theatrical re-release in stereoscopic starting with the 1999 prequel “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace,” which returns to theaters in 2012.
A statement from Lucasfilm, the US director’s film production company, on the Star Wars website said: “The live-action Star Wars saga will be converted to 3D.
“There are few movies that lend themselves more perfectly to 3D; from the Death Star trench run to the Tatooine Pod race, the Star Wars Saga has always delivered an entertainment experience that is completely immersive. The cutting edge conversion will take that immersion to the next thrilling level.”
Industrial Light & Magic, the part of Lucas’s production company Lucasfilm that specialises in visual effects, will supervise the project.
Visual effects supervisor John Knoll said: “It takes a critical and artistic eye along with an incredible attention to detail to be successful. It is not something that you can rush if you want to expect good results.
“For Star Wars we will take our time, applying everything we know both aesthetically and technically to bring audiences a fantastic new Star Wars experience.”
Lucas was recently quoted as saying that he was investigating the possibilities of 3D. “I haven’t been a big fan of 3D, the technology hasn’t been there. We’ve been struggling with it, but I think this (new technology) will be a new impetus to make that happen,” he said at the time.
The reactions to the news about Star Wars in 3D have been mixed. “Watching ‘The Phantom Menace’ in 3D would be like the car actually crashing into your face as opposed to just unfolding before your eyes,” British Star Trek actor and science fiction fan Simon Pegg said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Another user dubbed GeorgeMcCallum added: “Do you not think that Star Wars in 3D may ruin the context of the film, messing around with a movie which is already so popular?”
John Knoll, visual effects supervisor for Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic, is overseeing the conversion, which is being done by outside vendors with close oversight by ILM.
Knoll said Lucasfilm is committed to ensuring that the 3D conversion delivers results as good as a movie shot and authored in 3D. Knoll also said that it’ll be used to make the experience more immersive and he’ll avoid some of the more jarring, exaggerated uses of 3D that have marked previous stereoscopic pics.
“Having seen a lot of stereo material, I have very strong opinions about what I like and don’t like about stereo,” Knoll said. “I’m going to be applying my aesthetic. It’s not going to look like (conversions) we’ve seen in the past.”
Knoll also said that there are no plans to add or fix visual effects on the movies. Over the years, Lucas’s digital tweaks on the original trilogy pics have generated pushback from fans.
However, he added:”For Star Wars we will take our time, applying everything we know both aesthetically and technically to bring audiences a fantastic new Star Wars experience.”
Last month, it was announced that 3D films such as ‘Toy Story 3’ and ‘Shrek Forever After’ had helped boost UK box office takings by eight per cent.
In April, DreamWorks announced the first three Shrek movies would be converted to 3D. It has also been reported that Warner Bros has plans to rerelease the Harry Potter films in the newly revived format. [via Daily Telegraph (UK) and BBC]