Episode 3 DVD Press Day
Posted By Philip on October 10, 2005
The U.S. Revenge of the Sith DVD press day was held this past Thursday, October 6, at Skywalker Ranch. This was the first time since the Episode I DVD press day back in 2000 that the event was held at the Ranch, which almost guarantees attendance by invitees since the destination is more important to most than any news that may come from the event itself.
Skywalker Ranch has a certain mystique not held by other studio headquarter locations. Even in this crowd, you still hear some who think George Lucas lives there, or it's where they film the movies. Neither of which are true of course ? a fact likely already known by readers of this report.
What you may be surprised to know, however, is that with the recent moves by many of the Lucasfilm companies to the prestigious new Presidio facility in San Francisco, the Ranch, Big Rock Ranch, and San Rafael (eternal home of ILM) are nearly devoid of Lucasfilm occupants.
Skywalker Sound, located at the Ranch, was again the meeting place for the DVD press event. With its many sound mixing rooms, one of which turned into an impromptu home theater courtesy of THX (of course), and their impressive THX Stag Theater, this is the perfect location for a demonstration of these incredible new discs, but more importantly, the rich "value added content" they are also famous for.
Jim Ward, Sr. Vice President of Lucasfilm and President of Lucasarts, was our familiar host. The media invited list was bigger than ever and to match it, the Lucasfilm guest list was the best yet. In attendance was the Yoda duo, Rob Coleman and Frank Oz, as well as Ian McDiarmid, and Hayden Christensen.
The day started off with Jim Ward doing some demonstrations of the opening space battle and the final duel to 15 journalists at a time in the home theater room. Honestly, having been to a few of these, the bar is set quite high, so I expected to see just more of the same, but I walked out of there quite surprised. The demos were even more amazing than I could have wished, particularly the image quality. Everything was more sharp, more colorful, more richly detailed and impressive than any movie I have ever seen on DVD. Jim was correct to say that if you didn't get to see the movie projected at one of the digital theaters across the globe, you really didn't see it as intended. For a fact, I have not seen a DVD that made me more sorry I have a home office instead of a dedicated big-screen home theater. When you watch this movie, find the largest and nicest screen you possible. You'll be quite happy you did.
We didn't spend too much more time on the movie itself, though it was confirmed the version on the DVD is the same exact cut as the theatrical release. That is, until George Lucas ultimately revisits it, as I'm sure he is likely to do some day in the future.
Next up, we all gathered in Stag Theater, a large THX-certified theater inside Skywalker Sound. Getting quick attention from the group that recognized them, there are two golden statues now flanking the screen ? props from Palpatine?s office in E3. Disc 2 is where the extras are, and not to disappoint, Lucasfilm really delivers again.
There are six deleted scenes in various stages of completion, from totally complete to mixed with animatics. As alluded to earlier, none of these are integrated into the release. Each has an introduction, as well as the reason for leaving it out of the movie.
The one fans really were most disappointed to see left out of the movie is Yoda's exile to Dagobah. It's very short, under a half minute and basically just shows Yoda arriving on the swampy planet. Now, oddly enough, the reason George gives for not including this scene is a bit of a contradiction. He states it was left out because we know where Yoda goes. Well, we do, because all of us today saw the movies out of order. If the plan really is to have future audiences see them in order I - VI, as everybody in Lucasfilm professes, George included, then how his is this a reason to leave it out? Having said this, I'm not personally arguing for leaving it in, I'm just pointing out the reason is lame (Sorry George)
As it turns out, after watching the six deleted scenes, I feel like the most important missing scene was the third of a three-part set of shots referred to as the "Padm? and Rebel Alliance series". It focuses on the beginning of the rebellion led by Bail Organa and Mon Mothma. In it the group confronts Sidious, during which we get more of a hint of Sidious?s power hungry nature and the way in which he?s controlling Anakin. This is really important information to the story, but it's obvious all three scenes take the focus off Anakin, which George reminds us is what the story is really about. From a historical perspective, however, these make a fine addition to the story. It also gives us a chance finally to see George?s daughters and Bai Ling, all left out of the final cut.
The other two cut scenes show the death of Shaak Ti at the hands of Grievous, and the subsequent escape by our heroes from certain death. This is the scene that we all knew was being made in water and includes animatics. Finally, there is a discussion between Yoda, Obi-Wan and Mace about the Chancellor.
Within A Minute: The Making Of Episode III
This amazing piece runs over two hours and uses an innovative presentation to break down the incredible effort it takes to bring just 49 seconds of the movie to the screen. To begin you see 49 seconds of the epic duel, and are graphically shown a few statistics about the process.
It starts like this:
70441 Man Hours
Incredible, really. The documentary takes you through every single set of disciplines, explaining each, right down to listing each of those 910 people involved in the short epic duel scene. It's amazing to watch, and quite educational - truly "bonus? material in every sense of the word.
If you've been following along with prior DVD releases in the series, you're bound to know that the use of 1138 always brings up an Easter egg. This time... you get a digital Yoda break dancing. Hysterical. Not to be missed.
There is a feature-length commentary behind the movie, which includes comments from George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Rob Coleman, John Knoll and Roger Guyett.
The Chosen One Featurette, in which George Lucas connects the dots from I - VI to uncover the myth of Darth Vader.
It's All For Real: The Stunts of Episode III
An interesting, and not overly long, behind-the-scenes look at the actors and the stunts they trained for and performed, coordinated by Nick Gillard again.
Starwars.com Web Documentaries
The complete 18-part series that debuted on Starwars.com
"A Hero Falls" Music Video
Poster and Print Campaign / Trailers and TV Spots
Including photos of all the posters, international outdoor advertising, trailers, and 15 TV spots.
Production Still Photo Gallery
Lots of cool photos, though not overly large. I can imagine there are tens of thousands of these. We get just a taste.
No news was shared on what it is, so I'll be putting in the disc on Nov. 1st as well to find out with the rest of the world.
Other Information From The Event
There are a number of retailer specific release promotions. Jim Ward would not share what any of these are. Wal-Mart will have a bonus disc. Right now, that sounds like a stop on my Nov. 1 morning drive. Best Buy's promo is hinted to be an Apprentice tie-in.
Jim said sleeves that hold all three prequel DVDs was a good opportunity to partner with retailers. (hinting at a promotion?)
Rick McCallum, producer of the prequels, said George was working on the Indy IV script and expected to have it done this coming Sunday, then meeting with Steven Spielberg about it.
Jim said work continues on releasing Young Indiana Jones Chronicles on DVD. They have been working on it 18 months. It wasn't shot with a DVD release in mind so he indicated it's a big job. Rick said they are working to upgrade the 16mm source and sound. Three DVDs are completed out of a total of 22. They are targeting this to be done in 18 months.
No VHS release, because the market is DVD now. Don't kill the messenger; LFL doesn't appear to care that many of you will only ever have 5/6ths of the movies on tape.
No comment on a six-pack of Star Wars movies that we all know will ultimately come out.
Rick said Lucasarts analyzed its business, and decided they (very wisely) need to focus on just 2-3 games per year. Gamers will be happy to hear this, considering the rather lackluster Star Wars-themed efforts we?ve been getting for the past couple years.
Rick McCallum said a scene with Liam Neeson that fans heard about was discussed and tested, but it just didn't work so it was never completed.
Rick said the animated TV show is currently being worked on. George is writing 13 episodes, Rob Coleman is working on it here (at the Ranch), and the animation will be done in Singapore.
The live action series is set for early 2007 and will be darker, grittier and more character based than the movies according to Rick. As we've heard, it's targeted at 100 hours and set between Episode III and IV. They plan to shoot in high definition, or better if there is anything better by then, though not anticipated. Rick said it will likely be based in Sydney, but shot around the world.
Separately, rumors continue to abound this series might follow Boba Fett.
Rick talked about Star Wars in 3D, noting that getting this actually done is a two-part problem. Not very many theaters have the technology to bring it off. But that we will see a real deployment of digital 3D next year, and they have seen demonstrations that are fantastic. Without getting too technical, he mentioned that the fact that Star Wars is made up of so many elements in each frame, it is particularly adaptable to the digital 3D process. He also indicated the movie theater experience needs something like this to keep it viable.
Release: November 1in U.S. and Canada, and on or near the same date in most major territories it the world.
2 Discs, Movie and Supplemental
Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, Dolby Surround and THX
You can pre-order it from Amazon.com here.
Other Event Coverage Links
Coming Soon: DVD
Coming Soon: Ian McDiarmid
Coming Soon: Hayden Christensen
Coming Soon: Rick McCallum
Coming Soon: Jim Ward
Coming Soon: Frank Oz & Rob Coleman
About.com: Hayden Christensen
If you attended the press event and don't see your review listed, Email me and I'll see about adding it.
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