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Original 'Star Wars' films coming to DVD

Longed-for films coming out in September

Star Wars
Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) peer into the abyss in "Star Wars."

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• Special Report (1999): 'Star Wars': From the beginning 
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LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) -- The original "Star Wars" trilogy, one of the most-requested DVD episodic film franchises, is expected to be released as a four-disc DVD box set September 21.

A global rollout on DVD is expected within days of the domestic release, according to Lucasfilm Ltd. and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The trilogy, featuring the classic franchise films "Star Wars," "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi," will be released on three DVD discs, with a fourth disc likely to hold a newly made documentary about the "Star Wars" franchise and never-before-seen footage, among several other bonus materials, said Jim Ward, Lucasfilm's VP of marketing and distribution and the DVD trilogy's executive producer.

"We are currently in the process of restoring and remastering all three titles for the DVD release, so we're still working on details of the marketing strategy," Ward said. "But I believe that it is safe to say that it will receive tremendous exposure across all media."

Lucasfilm and Fox chose the September release date to maximize on holiday gift buying during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment president Mike Dunn said.

"We sold about 17 million VHS 'Star Wars' units during two fall release periods in '95 and '97," he said.

Combining huge consumer demand for the "Star Wars" franchise with being first out of the gate during the busy fourth-quarter home video market, Fox and Lucasfilm are hoping to cash in on DVD sales throughout the holidays and up until the theatrical release of "Star Wars: Episode III," which is set for release nationwide May, 25, 2005, Dunn and Ward said.

Each of the three films in the "Star Wars Trilogy" has been digitally restored and remastered for sound and picture quality, Ward said.

"First and foremost, the DVDs will deliver the very best possible sound and picture and take advantage of everything the medium can offer," Ward said. "On top of that, we are creating added-value material that gets inside the creation of the 'Star Wars' films in a fresh and fun way. We want watching this DVD collection to be as memorable as seeing the movies for the first time."

The films of the "Star Wars Trilogy" will be sold exclusively as a collection at a still-to-be-determined retail price and not separately, Fox executives said. However, retailers have been known to break up DVD box sets and sell individual titles after the first month out on store shelves.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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