This Day in Movie History – January 31st, 1997 – Star Wars: Special Edition Released

20 Years after the original, a new version of the iconic “Star Wars” film was released in theaters.

For a re-release of the successful first Star Wars movie, the film was remastered. But, aside from cleaning up the picture and sound, director George Lucas oversaw other changes for what he felt was his complete vision of the original 1977 picture.

special-edition

The poster for the Special Edition theatrical release of “Star Wars.”

Star Wars: The Special Edition was released to theaters on January 31, 1997.

One of the most notable changes that would be discussed by fans was when Greedo, working for Jabba the Hutt, fires at Han Solo first, instead of Han shooting first as in the original. This led to the “Han Shot First” catchphrase among some fans of the film. Other changes included a new scene featuring a computer-generated Jabba the Hutt, the addition of new creatures and droids in some shots, among other various edits, changes, and fixes.

The changes are considered inferior by a select, but passionate group of Star Wars fans, leading to a high demand for the original theatrical release. When the original Star Wars trilogy was released on DVD and later Blu-Ray, more changes and edits were made. Those new editions are the ones officially available on current home media. A limited DVD run included the original versions of the three original Star Wars films, but these were not made to take full advantage of the DVD format, and included as bonus discs only. Some fans have even made their own versions, trying as close as possible to mimic the original 1977 release.

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