By now, we have all had time to digest the news that George Lucas plans to release the Star Wars sextet in 3D, and used all necessary profanity in response to the fact that he’s starting with The Phantom Menace. The most surprising thing about this announcement is how unsurprising it is: Lucas’s affinity for multiple re-releases, each one containing many noticeable changes (like Greedo shooting first), is now as legendary as the movies themselves.
Conspiracy theories about this 3D release being motivated by the news that the Harry Potter franchise is threatening to overtake Star Wars as the top-grossing movie franchise of all time can be discounted. George Lucas has known for many years that if there is one constant in movies, it is that the number of times his audience will pay to watch someone go to Toschi station to pick up some power converters is infinite. While Lucas’s behavior may seem exploitative to many of his more sensitive fans, it makes perfect sense from a business standpoint: why go to the trouble of spending perhaps years developing a new script, months of shooting and maybe even a couple more years of post-production when he can make just as much money by tweaking a couple shots—or going through the process of making the movies 3D—and putting out one of the most known entities in the history of entertainment?
The Star Wars series has always evoked wonder in audiences. Its visuals and special effects, unprecedented when the series debut, still have the ability to dazzle today. In three dimensions, they will surely do the same, as will the unchanged epic story. There is, however, a question its audience must ask before paying their money to see Star Wars in 3D: “Am I being had?” There is nothing wrong with one deciding that the 3D experience is worth 3D prices to see a movie one has already seen. But one should ask that question first.