Here is the latest news flash from starwars.com with comments from SuperShadow:
On Monday, 20th Century Fox will place the film on the industry release schedule. Episode I will come to life on screens around the United States and Canada on May 21st, 1999. As with the Star Wars Special Edition, Fox will not set the film for widest possible release, but will bring the film to theaters with the emphasis on quality. George Lucas commented: "I'm not trying to break any records. I'm interested in quality presentation, and a positive group experience for everyone who comes to see this film. It's about sight and sound and the movie itself."
(SuperShadow: I can hear the collective groans of millions of Star Wars fan across North America. A limited release for Ep 1. Very dissappointing. Instead of being released on 4000 to 5000 theater screens, our worst nightmares have come true. George is going to release the film on a mere 2,000 to 2,200 screens. Would it really kill you George if we saw Ep 1 on a non-digital theater screening room?
However, by going with a limited release, George is going to extend the cinematic life of Ep 1 from 4 to 5 months in theaters to perhaps 9 to 10 months. If George is really lucky (and Ep 1 is a monster hit like Titanic), Ep 1 may play for up to a year in the cineplexes around the world.
In 1977, Star Wars: A New Hope opened on 32 screens across the country. Let us all pray collectively to God that Ep 1 gets to play at the theater with the biggest screening room in your town!
Almost all of the Ep 1 prints will be released in theaters with digital sound and state-of-the-art projection systems. It looks as though our friend, SithFox, and other execs at 20th Century Fox have lost the battle to get George to release the film in as many theaters as possible. Ep 1 is being optimized for viewing in a digital sound system environment and that is exactly what George is going to get. After spending over 3 years on this pet project, George is not going to let us see Ep 1 in some crappy, run-down theater. However, at this point, I would be willing to pay 20 bucks to see Ep 1 screened at the burned down drive-in theater. I kid you not. :)
This new release date for Ep 1 is unprecedented in the history of the Star Wars films. Each film in the classic trilogy was released during the Memorial Day Weekend. However, Ep 1 will be released during the weekend before Memorial Day Weekend. Intriguing. Lucasfilm is now daring somebody to open a major film during the Memorial Day Weekend and face the monolithic Ep 1 during its second weekend of release. Warner Bros., Sony, Universal, Paramount, Disney do any of you have the balls to open one of your major summer releases during Memorial Day Weekend 1999? We'll find out eventually . . .
It is now very unlikely that Ep 1 will earn $ 100 million in its first weekend. A box-office gross of perhaps $ 60 to $ 75 million is the best that can be hoped for now, but that would still be the largest opening ever for a three-day weekend. Also, it is going to put pressure on many cineplexes to add at least one THX screen to their theater or risk losing a chance at getting a print of Ep 1. Theaters with THX screens will definately have an advantage when comes time to negotiate with Fox about getting a print or two of Ep 1.
It seems that George is going to use Ep 1 to expand the presence and dominance of the THX sound system (or digital sound systems in general) in theaters all over the world. George is very shrewd.
The bottom line for the fans: Long, long, long, long lines for fans waiting to buy tickets for the film. It is going to be pure pandemonium trying to get a ticket to the first weekend of Ep 1 now. Scalpers are going to make a killing. If someone walks into your class room with a handful of tickets to Ep 1, how much would you be willing to sheel out to see Ep 1 on Friday, May 21? $ 10. $ 20. $ 50. How much would you pay? Let's hope theater owners limit the numbers of tickets someone can buy. Otherwise, those with deep pockets are going to buy up all the tickets for the first few days of the films release and then scalp the tickets to the fans for tons of cash. Also, with a limited release, the theater owners are going to be able to charge whatever they want. Perhaps they will double or triple the price for tickets to Ep 1. Great . . . something new to worry about . . . looks like we'll all have to get a part-time job at the local cineplex to keep from going into bankruptcy next summer :)
Again, since Lucasfilm will release the film prior to the Memorial Day Weekend, will any studio dare release a mega-budgeted film ($ 100 million plus) versus Ep 1 during Ep 1's second weekend of release to take advantage of one of the biggest holiday weekends of the summer? The plot thickens . . . again.
More news from starwars.com:
Producer Rick McCallum originally budgeted three weeks of August pick-ups back in 1997, but the schedule has been cut back to only a week, with additional weeks slated for dialogue recording.
(SuperShadow: Kind of ambiguous. Dialogue for which scenes are going to be recorded later in the year? Is George going to use these new weeks for dialogue recording that changes key dialogue in the film and/or character and planet names. Is a massive change to Ep 1's plot about to unfold? Is George going to have the last laugh after all? Maybe, George is going to use my suggestion for Natalie Portman's character name: Shoowo. Hey, it ain't much worse than Padher or Padme or whatever they're calling her right now. So now we have to re-set all our countdown clocks from May 25 to May 21. On the bright side, we now have 4 less days until the release of Ep 1!!! Start waiting in line now!!! And start saving lots of money, too!!! :)