We've been waiting for you, Obi-Wan.
In the sort of announcement that sends reporters dashing to the nearest bank of phone booths, someone who should know let it slip in front of a live audience and one of America's most trusted news sources that Star Wars is coming to Blu-ray. Some of the longest lines at the recent Star Wars Celebration V fan convention in Orlando were for "The Main Event," a live one-on-one discussion between The Daily Show's John Stewart and Master of the Star Wars Universe, George Lucas.
"I wish I could say it was coming out this year," quoth Lucas, "but it will come out next year." He later specified the Fall of 2011, likely timed for holiday gift-giving. (George is thoughtful like that.) His comments were in response to a long list of fan-submitted questions delivered by Stewart, with clamoring for the movies themselves on the newest and best-quality format being one of the most common themes. These films are without question among the most anticipated on Blu-ray, of the magnitude that some consumers will go out and buy their first player for the occasion.
The release will be in the form of a boxed set that includes the entire six-film Star Wars cycle (I'd call it "The Star Wars Sexology," but they're mostly rated PG), with high-definition picture and sound, which we can only assume will be THX-certified. Extensive bonus features have been promised, although no word if all of the existing value-added content from DVD (let alone laserdisc) will be ported over.
In what was surely a highlight of the event, those in attendance were among the first anywhere to see a long-rumored deleted scene from Return of the Jedi. (This scene appears in the novelization penned by James Kahn). In it, we see Luke Skywalker assembling a new lightsaber to replace the one he lost--along with his right hand--during his duel with Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. He then stores it inside R2-D2's head as part of an elaborate plan to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt's palace. Unlike most deleted scenes, this one was dropped very late in the game and so has near-final-quality special effects plus John Williams' music.
The clip was introduced by none other than Mark Hamill, star of the Classic Trilogy. Deleted scenes from Episode IV: A New Hope, which also offered an alternate introduction to his character in that film, had previously been released on a CD-ROM but have never part of any official DVD release. Will they appear on Blu-ray? Pricing and final details have yet to be revealed, so stay tuned to Big Picture Big Sound for further updates.