The George Lucas Usenet Archive

Hi, guess what? It's the new ULTIMATE edition of The Phantom Menace!
From: George Lucas
Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.starwars.misc,
Subject: Hi, guess what? It's the new ULTIMATE edition of The Phantom Menace!
Organization: Lucasfilm, Ltd.
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 03:36:36 GMT
Dear Star Wars Fans,

As my second unit directors wind up some minor dramatic scenes with Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman, I've taken the time to review the hundreds of hours of cut scenes from my motion picture extravaganza, The Phantom Menace. Only a handful of these scenes received the full blown CGI treatment, so it took awhile for my research staff to identify what the characters were actually doing; but working from these notes I was able to reconstruct several missing subplots, among them Anakin's trip to the hairdresser with Queen Amidala, Yoda and Yaddle's love scene, and a flying Jawa who briefly disrupts the climactic three-way lightsaber battle.

In some cases this footage consisted of no more than a cardboard head against the green screen backdrop, or Liam Neeson in a plaid suit jacket talking to a thin wooden pole. In others, millions of dollars had been spent adding digital backgrounds, ray-traced shadows, and luxurious THX-certified sound effects, as well as dropping digitized extras into the background and "bringing it all to life" by animating footage of the main actors with outtakes from other portions of the movie (this saved us from having to reshoot several scenes). What a shame for all that work and imagination to go to waste! Well, not any more it won't!

That's right, I finally have the resources, time, and energy to make The Phantom Menace DVD the way I always intended to. It saddens me that I could not make this Ultimate edition before two million (and counting!) copies of the original DVD had already been purchased, but that's the way it goes. I guess it vindicates my original plan to wait years to release anything on DVD, in favor of my new entertainment medium, the bio-cube--but there you have it. The fans asked for it.

The new 17-disc set will retail at $379.95, although owners of the original collector's edition can turn their copies in for an extra 2.5% discount, whatever that comes out to. It will have more features, more documentaries, more deleted scenes, more restored footage, and more screen tests of actors I could have used besides Jake Lloyd. I have not one but five commentary tracks all to myself, saying slightly different things and avoiding generally the same topics in each one (in the fifth I weep silently for several minutes). Plus, every main actor and most principal crew members each have their own commentary tracks all to themselves. And, as a special easter egg, there's a bonus track featuring commentary from the fictional character Jar-Jar Binks! There's also candid footage of Natalie Portman during costuming, Ewan McGregor drunk on the set, and Liam Neeson calling in death threats to his agent. All that, plus new behind-the-scenes footage showing me writing the words "When Clones Attack" on a blank sheet of paper.

This new set will be encased in a special 3rd anniversary box design just in time for the 3rd anniversary of its theatrical run! Special holographic logos will feature every cast member and most extras, plus Boba Fett! Included with the box set will be an authentic, signed reproduction of one of the original pieces of hate mail addressed to Ahmed Best. This really will be the ULTIMATE edition of the science fiction classic, The Phantom Menace! I know you can't wait to own it.

May the Force Be With You Always,