Nostalgia re: the 25th Anniversary of the Star Wars "Special Edition" theatrical release films (1997)

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Wow. It's been 25 years since the three Star Wars Special Edition theaters were first released to theaters, starting with the ANH: SE on 1/31/1997.

In mid-January '97, I unexpectedly got to see a special "Sneak Peek" of the ANH: SE, courtesy of the Star Wars Fan Club. I was elated to get these tickets in the mail, since I had no idea they were coming ahead of time. And, it was great to see the film theatrically two weeks before the official opening - with a lot of other SW fans. It was the first time I had seen the film in theaters since ANH was re-released in '79, when I was a kid. This time around, the picture looked amazing, and the sound was incredible. It was also nice to note all of the numerous changes/additions. Obviously, the "Greedo shot first" scene got some groans, but IMHO most of the rest of the additions/changes truly enhanced the movie, especially the very much needed enhancements during the Death Star battle.

However, while it was interesting to see a new scene with a young Harrison Ford/Han Solo interacting with Jabba the Hutt in a filmed (but never before released) scene, the "Grimace Jabba" effect(s) did not look that great. (However, the 2004 DVD release enhanced the Jabba effects - vastly improving this sequence).

I then re-watched the ANH: SE on it's official release day about two weeks later, and several times after that.

Later, I saw the ESB: SE (February) and the ROTJ: SE (March). In fact, IIRC I saw ANH, ESB, and ROTJ in theaters all on the same day in March - something I had always wanted to do since the OT days.

The ESB: SE was my favorite of the three. The additional Wampa scenes looked great, as well as the additional Cloud City "crowd" scenes, some added Cloud Cars, etc. Essentially, I found the ESB: SE to, overall, have the most subtle additions/enhancements - which worked well, since the film was pretty much perfect to begin with.

The ROTJ: SE was my least favorite of the three. I didn't just dislike one of the significant changes - I hated this, i.e. the added Jabba's Palace dance scenes. This resulted in the complete removal of a great scene - i.e. the Sy Snootles/Max Rebo/Droopy McCool song/dance number. However, I did like the additional Oola scene (using the same actress from the original 1983 film), the Banthas in the Tattoine desert as the Sail Barge sailed over them, etc.

Here's an interesting article on how the "second coming" of SW started with the new books & comics in 1991 (Heir to the Empire & Dark Empire, respectively), and continued with the POTF2 Kenner toys in 1995, etc. IMHO, these were all leading to the release of these SE films in early 1997 (and later the PT). As the article states, it's also telling that the ANH: SE was the most financially successful of any January-released film.

Going along with this, the theatrical success of the SE's was especially notable, since movie-goers were flocking to the theater to see these older films - despite the fact(s) that these had been available on VHS tape for years & had been released theatrically in the past. Obviously, everyone wanted to see these on the big screen again (or, for the first time):

 
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A very interesting article. God, that time of the special editions was amazing. Star Wars was still very much a nostalgic cult film series that felt special (pardon the pun), as opposed to the “franchise” that it is now.

I can’t believe that the Special Editions have now been around way longer than the original films had been in 1997.
 
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I remember going opening night with friends in college but it was sold out everywhere, finally got into a midnight show.

Everyone else at the midnight show was there for the same reasons, most of them spent their hours waiting in the local bars, so by the time the movie started, half the audience was lewd and drunk!

This made for its own entertainment. Especially during the cantina scene where there was a bit of clapping and dancing in the isles.


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I was 16 when the SE hit and had only seen Return of the Jedi in the theatre when it was rereleased in 1985. So I was pumped. My friends and I were the first in the theater for A New Hope and foolishly sat in the very front row so it was a lot to take in at once and I was probably obnoxious as hell with my excitement but I had a blast.
 
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Man, hard to believe, 25 years already.

I was there 1997 opening night at one of the original theatres in San Francisco that show Star Wars in 1977.
It was the Coronet. Unfortunately, no longer around.

Brings back a flood of memories.

Wow, I almost prefer this version as opposed to later versions. I would be happier with ESB & ROTJ SE on blu ray than the versions now than the versions been made over the years.

Thank you.
 
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So they ruined these movies 25 years ago... wow I thought they would have re-released the unaltered by now.:LOL:
1646772237633.png
this would be an accurate Jabba cosplay from the SE....lol
 
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I remember standing in line to get in at the little theater in Austin Texas to see thie special editions. It was a freaking blast just hanging out with people and seeing the films we all loved. I still have my ticket stubs somewhere
 
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I remember standing in line to get in at the little theater in Austin Texas to see thie special editions. It was a freaking blast just hanging out with people and seeing the films we all loved. I still have my ticket stubs somewhere

That was great. It wasn't till Jedi did I started getting fussy about all the changes Lucas made. After multiple viewings I complained allot more about all of them.... :p
 
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The Jabba throne room song & dance change was my least favorite.
Changing the Ewok song at the end is just as bad.
Toward the end of the run of Empire, I went with a friend to see Jedi (the two did overlap) he had to leave for work, so I walked in to see Empire again. Nobody showed up beside me. It was weird but cool to see Empire on the big screen by myself. and that one was the least touched too.
 
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Changing the Ewok song at the end is just as bad.
Toward the end of the run of Empire, I went with a friend to see Jedi (the two did overlap) he had to leave for work, so I walked in to see Empire again. Nobody showed up beside me. It was weird but cool to see Empire on the big screen by myself. and that one was the least touched too.
Yeah empire is still the best
 
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Lobotscomb, never cared for the Ewok song back in 1983.
It is not terrible, but I prefer the SE version IMO.

Imperial_JD, I agree ESB is still the best.

Thank you.
 
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To follow-up on some of the last posts:

-Yes, I remember seeing Empire & Jedi SE's theatrically on the same day. It was great to be able to do this.

-Even back in 1983, I didn't really care for the "Yub Nub" Ewok song. I strongly preferred the more all-encompassing "Celebration" song at the end of the ROTJ SE, with the various shots to the different planets celebrating the fall of the Empire, etc. The new song & the different sequences made the ending much more epic.
 
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I didn't like the "remake' special editions. I understand the green lightsaber now, but the music at the end of Return Of the Jedi on Endor ,I didn't like, I remember the feeling I felt when I saw the original movie in '77, and prefer it. I do like the way the Death Star finally blew up with the shock wave and all. but when you put the sequels on to those original movies and the remade celebration, including the prequel planets, it makes the the end of the remakes sort of sad. The rebellion lost finally to the Empire. I still say ,the series should have been left at Return of the Jedi.
 
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