‘Star Wars’ saga jumps through digital HD hyperspace to tablets, phones

April 06, 2015 | 7:30 p.m.

“Star Wars” fans will soon be able to explore a galaxy far, far away from their laptops, tablets and phones. The complete six-episode film saga — from 1977’s “A New Hope” to 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith” — will be available on Digital HD for the first time beginning Friday, Walt Disney, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox announced Monday evening.

The six films in the “Star Wars” digital movie collection will be available for purchase individually or as a set at leading digital retailers, including Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Xbox, PlayStation and more, according to Disney.

“We’re thrilled that fans will be able to enjoy the ‘Star Wars’ saga on their digital devices wherever they go,” Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said in a press statement. “These films broke new ground in technology, design, sound and visual effects, and we’ve created some very special bonus material which delves into the saga’s rich history, including new and never-before-released conversations between legendary ‘Star Wars’ artists – the masters who helped George [Lucas] bring his iconic universe to life.”

The digital release features the versions of the films from the existing Blu-ray masters (Han and Greedo shoot nearly simultaneously), but with new bonus material. Bonus features, which may vary by retailer, include:

“Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace”
– Conversations: Doug Chiang Looks Back
– Discoveries From Inside: Models & Miniatures
– Legacy content includes: “The Beginning”; “The Podrace: Theatrical Edit”; plus eight deleted scenes.

“Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones”
– Conversations: Sounds In Space
– Discoveries From Inside: Costumes Revealed
– Legacy content includes “From Puppets to Pixels: Digital Characters In Episode II”; State Of The Art: The Previsualization Of Episode II; and “Films Are Not Released, They Escape”; plus Episode II Visual Effects Breakdown Montage and six deleted scenes.

“Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith”
– Conversations: The Star Wars That Almost Was
– Discoveries From Inside: Hologram & Bloopers
– Legacy content includes documentaries “Within A Minute: The Making Of Episode III”; The Journey Part 1; and The Journey Part 2; plus six deleted scenes.

“Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope” (20th Century Fox)
– Conversations: Creating A Universe
– Discoveries From Inside: Weapons & The First Lightsaber
– Legacy content includes “Anatomy Of A Dewback”; Star Wars Launch Trailer; plus eight deleted scenes.

“Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back”
– Conversations: The Lost Interviews
– Discoveries From Inside: Matte Paintings Unveiled
– Legacy content includes “A Conversation With The Masters” (2010); “Dennis Muren: How Walkers Walk”; “George Lucas on Editing ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ 1979”; and “George Lucas on The Force: 2010”; plus six deleted scenes.

“Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi”
– Conversations: The Effects
– Discoveries From Inside: The Sounds Of Ben Burtt
– Legacy content includes “Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi”; “Revenge of the Jedi” teaser trailer; “Return of the Jedi” launch trailer; “It Began” TV spot; “Climactic Chapter” TV spot; plus five deleted scenes.

“Since the debut of the first film nearly 40 years ago, ‘Star Wars’ has become a worldwide phenomenon with legions of fans from every generation,” Alan Bergman, president of Walt Disney Studios, said in the press statement. “It’s only fitting that audiences enjoy this legendary saga and its many fascinating behind-the-scenes stories on a wide variety of platforms.”

The release comes ahead of the Star Wars Celebration, a four-day fan event that begins April 16 at the Anaheim Convention Center, and before the much anticipated seventh installment in the franchise: “The Force Awakens,” directed by “Star Trek” alumnus J.J. Abrams, takes place 30 years after the events of “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi,” with original stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker joining Harrison Ford as part of the ensemble cast.

Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and newcomer Daisy Ridley, in addition to Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson, performance-capture expert Andy Serkis and venerable Swedish thespian Max von Sydow, will also star in “The Force Awakens,” as will Lupita Nyong’o, who earned a supporting actress Oscar for her heart-wrenching turn in “12 Years a Slave,” and Gwendoline Christie, who plays the towering fighter Brienne of Tarth on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

The film also stars several new names, including American actress Crystal Clarke and British actor Pip Andersen, a parkour specialist.

Abrams’ “The Force Awakens” kicks off a planned trilogy. He will be succeeded as director by Rian Johnson (“Looper”), who will write and direct “Episode VIII.” There are also spinoff films in the works.

“The Force Awakens” is due in theaters Dec. 18, 2015.  The first in a series of planned “Star Wars” spinoffs will be titled “Rogue One.” Directed by Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla”) and set for release Dec. 16, 2016, that film is set to begin shooting this summer in London with a screenplay from Chris Weitz (“About a Boy,” “Cinderella”).

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark | Google+


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