Star Wars Episode I to Go 3D in 2012

Lucasfilm has been busy of late. First came the announcement that the Star Wars films would arrive in 2011 on Blu-ray Disc. Now, comes word that Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace would revisit theaters in 3D come 2012.

According to Twentieth Century Fox and Lucasfilm’s statement, the 3D theatrical launch of The Phantom Menace is set for February 10, 2012. The conversion process is being overseen by Industrial Light & Magic, “with the utmost respect for the source material, and a keen eye for both technological considerations and artistic intentions.”

Frankly, it’s not the prospect of seeing Jar-Jar Binks in 3D that has me excited. It’s the idea of seeing young Anakin Skywalker’s thrilling podrace on Tatooine in 3D. And seeing scenes like Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s battle with Darth Maul. Largely, it’s the idea of seeing a film that was, when it debuted, larger-than-life—it was the eagerly awaited return of the Star Wars franchise, after all—transformed into 3D more than a decade later.

From conversations within the film industry, I know the reality is not all 2D content can be converted to 3D; if a film wasn’t intentionally shot for 3D, the 3D experience loses something in translation. However, Star Wars’ uniqueness makes it perfect for this transfer: So much of 1999’s Episode I (and its two sequels) was done with green screen and digital effects, that I can only imagine that will help with the transition to 3D. And if anyone can pull off that kind of visual wizardry in going from 2D to 3D, it’s going to be the minds at Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic.

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