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1997-1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002+

Why not Episode I DVD?

This past week, the Episode I DVD hit the market. No, not one officially sanctioned by Lucasfilm and George Lucas, another one that is highly illegal, and slightly above the "cheap imitation" category. Of course, the Dolby 5.1 and great picture quality are going to make it hard for the most desperate fans to not pick up.

First, where is it coming from? Well, DVD resource page the Digital Bits is saying that the folks over in Hong Kong just couldn't resist the opportunity to make this little gem, complete with a slick cover and all. It's only a matter of time before Internet sites get a hold of the copy and review it. Of course, the many pirate versions of the film exist and were even marketed over the world wide web, but none were this slick in production. For example, check out these scans of the bootleg:

The picture quality is said to rival theater quality, and the sound is fantastic. I hate to admit it, but this DVD-bootleg is going to be very tempting for fans.

Which brings us to the point of the editorial: Why doesn't Lucasfilm release a basic version of the DVD for now, then the all-inclusive Total Archival Super Special Edition in the 6 Box Limited Collector's Series later on? I mean come on, if Lucas wanted to have a DVD for The Phantom Menace today, even a stripped down version would sell the pants of Matrix DVD. That's why I don't understand Lucasfilms DVD policy. This was bound to happen!

To be honest, I'm suprised by this move. Even exchanging emails with Roderick (from the Virtual Edition), he thought that instead of chasing and tracking down bootleggers, LFL could sit back and relax while the $$$ keeps flowing in, with the additional assurance that people will buy the special DVD edition later on as well, as long as it's really special.

So what's LucasFilm afraid of? I hope that after the Christmas re-release (if it's really happening) is past, LFL will at least give DVD fans a chance to own the first episode on that format now, and as well when the new expanded archival versions appear in 2006. It's just too long for fans to wait, they want something now.

Don't make them settle for a cheap imitation.

Joshua Griffin
October 18th, 1999

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