Lucasfilm and the Official Star Wars site have made the official announcement for the theatrical release of the 3D version of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The first chapter of the saga will be released to theaters on February 10, 2012.
George Lucas first made the announcement of Star Wars 3D last year, with a plan to release one movie each year beginning with Episode I. The news was met with some mixed reactions across fandom, though this is to be expected any time there is a major announcement like this.
The announcement from Lucasfilm reads as follows:
Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox announced today that the 3D theatrical launch of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace now has an official release date — February 10, 2012! Set against the thrilling and exotic backdrop of a “galaxy far, far away,” Star Wars is perfectly suited to the immersive 3D theatrical experience, and Episode I delivers some of the Saga’s most stunning and spectacular sequences — from the Naboo invasion to the Tatooine Podraces to the climactic lightsaber battle between Darth Maul and the Jedi.
Supervised by Industrial Light & Magic, the meticulous conversion is being done with utmost respect for the source material, and with a keen eye for both technological considerations and artistic intentions.
Lucas has had so many different releases, editions, and versions of the Star Wars saga out there, and as with previous issues there is the potential for some updates and changes to the finished product. There has been some footage of a CGI Yoda seen on previous DVD releases speaking lines from The Phantom Menace – one has to wonder whether this will be an inclusion on the 3D release as well.
Personally, my real concern is the fact that these releases are (obviously) being post-converted to 3D… they weren’t filmed with the same 3D camera tech used by James Cameron with Avatar, which I found to be truly an immersive experience. I can’t say the same for other films that boast the 3D buzzword.
One can only hope that ILM are treating the films with the respect they say they are. Either way, I would imagine we are going to hear much more about Star Wars 3D through 2011, and I would guess there’s going to be some surprise footage being shown at events such as San Diego Comic Con this year.