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'Star Wars' Kicks Off 30th Birthday Celebration

22 Jul, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

SAN DIEGO — As usual, Lucasfilm's Star Wars presentation was one of the well-attended events at Comic-Con. This year, fans heard all about the new 'Star Wars' DVD releases coming in September from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

This year's annual “Star Wars Day” fell on the exact 30th Anniversary of Lucasfilm's first appearance the (much-smaller) 8th Annual Comic-Con at the El Cortez hotel.

About 100 people attended that first Star Wars event and were among the first people ever to catch glimpses of now-iconic characters like Darth Vader, Chewbacca and Princess Leia, said Steve Sansweet, head of fan relations for Lucasfilm.

Close to 10,000 people packed the main Comic-Con hall Friday, July 21, where Stormtroopers blanketed the room with blue buttons touting the phrase “Han Shoots First” and the Sept. 21 street date of Fox's release of the individually packaged Special Edition versions of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, which also include the original, unedited theatrical versions of the films.

Sansweet kicked off this year's Star Wars demo addressing Internet chatter bemoaning the fact that the original theatrical versions Lucasfilm is finally putting on DVD are from the laserdisc transfer and are not in anamorphic widescreen or completely digitally restored.

Sansweet had some fun with the audience, showing a scene from the movie in a tiny square in middle of the hall's gigantic five video screens, then showing the same scene tweaked to have about the quality of a NASA Earth-to-Moon video transmission.

“I'm done messing with you,” Sansweet said, and cued the “real” clip of the oft-discussed “Han shoots first” scene from A New Hope, which was greeted with massive cheers from the audience.

“The transfers are absolutely incredible,” Sansweet said, “I have never seen a movie look this good at this level, despite what you may have heard in Internet rumors.”

The original laserdisc transfers went through a frame-by-frame digital color correction, he said.

Next spring marks the 30th Anniversary of the release of the first Star Wars movie, and Lucasfilm has big plans for the landmark, including Star Wars' first ever appearance in the Rose Bowl Parade.

This year, Lucasfilm will roll out two Star Wars-themed floats — one based on the moon of Endor, the other centered on the planet of Naboo. Nearly 300 Stormtroopers from the rabid fan group “Vader's Fist: The Fighting 501st Stormtrooper Brigade” will participate.

The annual Star Wars convention will be held at the Los Angeles Convention center in 2007, over Labor Day weekend, Sansweet announced.

Sansweet also used the Comic-Con venue to show off some new Star Wars video games, like the upcoming Lego Star Wars I, which will allow players to mix-and-match characters, putting a Vader head on a Chewbacca body, for example.

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