I've already explained my apprehension about buying the upcoming releases of the original, theatrical versions of the first Star Wars trilogy. Looks like I was right to be nervous.
According to sites like Video Business and The Digital Bits, the prints for the original versions come from "laserdiscs of the films released in the mid ’90s." Video Business explains, "This means that Episodes IV-V1 will be presented in widescreen but not anamorphic, thereby not making full use of modern TV screens."
LucasFilm defends the move by saying that they "felt there was little need to invest resources into sprucing up films that have already been restored to pristine form." Forgetting, of course, that the films that were restored are not the original versions, but "the late ’90s theatrical versions (that) represent George’s vision for Star Wars." Lucasfilm also stated that they "hoped that by releasing the original movies as a bonus disc, it would be a way to give the fans something that is fun. We certainly didn’t want to be become a source of frustration for fans."
That's what bugs me about this whole thing. There's obviously a huge market for the original versions, but LucasFilm treats them as throwaway material. That shows a large disconnect between LucasFilm and fans. Whereas fans were far more excited about the ability to buy the original versions of the movies than they were about the two-thousandth release of the Special Editions, LucasFilm thought of the Special Editions as the main event and the original versions as a fun throwaway item.
LucasFilm goes on to say that "at this time, there are no plans to release the original ’70s Star Wars versions in high-definition." That's actually the best news of all, because it's exactly the same thing that they said about releasing them in the first place. My hope is that the large fan outcry about this whole thing will make LucasFilm realize the demand for quality versions of the original movies. It's not an unfounded hope. That George does love a buck.