In 1995 it was announced that (yet another) box set of the Star Wars Trilogy was to be released on VHS and laserdisc, and that this would be your last chance to own the original Star Wars Trilogy. I didn't believe them and I didn't rush out and buy it (though I did believe them in 2006 when they released the Limited Edition Theatrical DVDs, and I did rush out and buy those...) But back to 1995. This was the new box:
Coming just 3 years after the "Special Letterbox Collectors Edition" Star Wars Trilogy Box set and only 5 years after the first trilogy box set, the main selling points were the exclusive interviews with George Lucas in which he discusses the upcoming Special Edition changes and the prequel trilogy to follow, and the 'new' THX digital master (actually the same master was used for The Definitive Collection Laserdisc set back in 1993 - and the 2006 Limited Edition Theatrical Edition DVDs), but this was the first (and last) time it was made available on VHS. The laserdisc versions of this set were in the CLV "Extended Play" format omitting the need to get up 5 times during the movie to flip or swap the discs.
The back of the box reads:
The appeal of STAR WARS has gone beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I am pleased that for the final video release of STAR WARS in its original version, we can present it with the best sound and picture quality yet available, thanks to THX digital mastering.
In the years to come I hope you, your children, and your children's children will enjoy not only this trilogy but also the adventures yet to come in the continually unfolding STAR WARS universe.
STAR WARS STRATEGY
Expecting to set a new record for sales of a catalog series, Fox will re-release the "Star Wars" trilogy on Aug. 29 and then cease filling orders for "Star Wars" itself on Jan. 31, 1996. The studio has established a $12.95 minimum advertised price on individual cassettes and $29.95 for the set. Retailers who go lower will forfeit co-op ad support.
"This is not a joke," says DeLellis. "'Star Wars' is going off the market forever." The other two movies in the trilogy, "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return Of The Jedi," will be removed until the fall of 1997, he adds.
The limited availability of "Star Wars" is part of a five-year plan that includes a reworking of the title by director George Lucas.
To date, about l0 million copies of the trilogy have been sold. Distributor sources indicate that the new promotion could yield an additional 10 million cassettes.
Lucas is planning to upgrade "Star Wars," adding special effects that hadn't been devised when the movie was produced in 1977. "He wants new generations to see the film the way he wanted it to be 20 years ago," DeLellis says.
Tentatively titled, "Star Wars: The Special Edition," the spiffed-up version will arrive in theaters in two years, followed by a video release in December 1997. DeLellis says Lucas will also produce three "prequels" to "Star Wars" that should appear on the big screen in 1998, 1999, and 2000.
Fox and promotional partner Kellogg's will spend $16 million advertising the "Star Wars" video trilogy, on moratorium since last December. The campaign is equal in size to that for Fox's 1990 hit "Home Alone," DeLellis says.
During the promotion period, Kellogg's will offer a three-tiered rebate, worth up to $7, when consumers purchase the titles and two boxes of Raisin Bran cereal. In a separate promotion, purchasers of two boxes of Corn Pops can receive a free copy of "The Making Of Star Wars." Finally, Kellogg's will run a "last chance to own" message on 11 million boxes of Apple Jacks.
By EILEEN FITZPATRICK and SETH GOLDSTEIN
Copyright of Billboard is the property of Prometheus Global Media, LLC.
[Source: Billboard, 7/1/95, Vol. 107 Issue 26, p6]
A September review of the new set appeared in Entertainment Weekly:
A new boxed set brings 'Star Wars' to the next generation
If you were to string together in a continuous line all the words of wonder, analysis, and obsessive annotation that have been written, printed, E-mailed, and just plain spoken about the STAR WARS TRILOGY (1977-1983, Fox-Video, PG, $49.98 boxed set; $19.98 each tape), you'd probably have a causeway stretching to the farthest reaches of the galaxy. On the occasion of this heavily promoted video reissue, could there be anything new under the moons of Endor to say about the movies themselves?
There is. Watching Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi again, it's hard not to contemplate the dark side of director-producer George Lucas' phenomenal success. He demonstrated to Hollywood that the world has a nearly bottomless appetite for breakneck, dialogue-light action fare. Result? A more serious brand of F/X-free American filmmaking that flourished B.C. (Before Chewbacca) has been cast out to the nether regions of the independents.
End of historical sermon. But there's plenty more to say about what's coming next about the way George Lucas and FoxVideo are using these tapes to prime a new generation for more movies in the series. Before each movie, there's a fawning, five-minute Leonard Maltin "interview" with Lucas. ("Well George, as you know, people are just nuts for these movies, and to learn so much about them and what went into them and what inspired you is a real treat." Silver-haired, sleepy-eyed Lucas nods, "It's nice to think of them as being timeless.")
Actually, for the original Star Wars, time is almost up. Lucas and Maltin are careful to plug not only an upcoming trio of prequels, due around the millennium, but also Star Wars Special Edition, containing added footage, coming to theaters in 1997. The original Star Wars will be withdrawn from distribution in January.
Meantime, the ostensible selling point of the boxed set--spruced-up transfers--is highly debatable. The vastly improved audio sounds great, and the colors are gorgeously goosed up. But through the use of a visual filtering process that disguises dirt and other imperfections in the original negatives, the images often appear grainy and processed. What's worse, in these cropped copies, the action grows more and more difficult to follow (a letterboxed set, costing $10 more, isn't due till October).
If the force must be with you, always, you won't go terribly wrong with this boxed set. But I'm holding out for some future video edition that truly makes the jump to hyperspeed. Star Wars: A The Empire Strikes Back: A Return of the Jedi: B This package: B-
By Steve Daly
[Source: Entertainment Weekly, 9/15/95, Issue 292, p118]
Marketing a product that most households already owned on one form or another (Star Wars had been available to rent and buy on VHS since 1982 in Full Screen Pan & Scan, on laserdisc in several versions - Pan & Scan, Letterboxed, CAV, CLV; on the short lived CED; and of course the movie had been on cable and network TV, so anyone with a VHS recorder who was a fan of the movies probably already had a copy somewhere.) proved a challenge for Fox Video. How do you sell ice to the Eskimo?:
A movie can't be all things to all people. But marketers at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment learned that a franchise like Star Wars holds special meaning for each demographic that has seen it.
Hence the many tiers of its $16 million ad campaign as Fox melds nostalgia and newness for its recently repackaged and relaunched set of the classic Lucasfilm trilogy. Fox treated the movies as if they were being released in theaters for the first time. Marketers platformed the titles--beginning in July, well ahead of the Aug. 29 re-release--with teaser billboards and bus signs that featured single images of Darth Vader, Yoda and a storm trooper, with equally sparse taglines: "Experience the Force in THX," and "One Last Time." That led to a full-fledged national TV and radio ad campaign, with different creative for different generations of fans, and even a tie-in for promotions with Kellogg.
"The movies are so accessible. They've been on TV, they've been in the video stores," said Bruce Pfander, Fox Home Entertainment's svp-marketing. "The challenge was to make them special. Another challenge was to contemporize the property to make it more '90s without stepping on its heritage."
The digitally remastered George Lucas trilogy, appealing to movie buffs and sci-fi fans, will be pulled off the video market permanently after January 1996, a precursor to the 1997 theatrical rerelease with new footage for Star Wars' 20th anniversary.
The electronic ads featured testimonials from people in various age groups talking about what the movies mean to them. Customized to each audience group from kids, teens and GenX to parents and grand- parents, the ads touted everything Fox repackaged and remarketed from the humor in the the trilogy as if a new release. series to its action and suspense.
The program also included the launch of the division's World Wide Web site with Star Wars story-lines, sound bites from the characters, trivia and contests updated weekly. A new 3D rotating technology was put in place so hackers could see all angles of the characters, and Lucas allowed Fox to include photos from his archives, like model drawings of the evolution of evil-doer Jabba the Hut.
"This demographic knows so much about the franchise that we realized they wanted lots of content they couldn't get anywhere else," said Ruby Randall, Fox Home Entertainment's vp-marketing services. The site, tagged on the outdoor ad campaign, has logged more than 4 million hits to date.
The Kellogg cross-promotion put trilogy info, premium offers and refunds on 42 million boxes of Raisin Bran, Corn Pops and Apple Jacks. The latter two brands were included for their young demographic, intended to introduce the movies to a new generation of consumers. The promo, supported by national ads, FSIs and in-store POP, runs mid-October through the holidays.
at the box office
- Star Wars, released in 1977, grossed $323 million domestically
- The Empire Strikes Back, released in 1980, grossed $223 million domestically
- Return of the Jedi, released in 1983, grossed $264 million domestically
In video stores (since 1982)
- Star Wars, 2 million-plus units sold
- The Empire Strikes Back, 2 million units sold
- Return of the Jedi, 2 million units sold
- Trilogy: 900,000 units sold
- Newly repackaged set: 12 million units sold to date.
data: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
By T.L. Stanley
[Source: Brandweek, 10/9/95, Vol. 36 Issue 38, p26]
Here is one of the TV/Video Ads from the "One Last Time" campaign:
Download this file (Right click the link and choose 'Save Target As...')
Even 8 months later, however, videos were still selling strong...
STAR WARS TRILOGY
Bob Delellis, president of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, was confident the Force was with him on the division's biggest home video release project ever: a spruced-up "Star Wars Trilogy."
The tapes featured a revealing interview with creator George Lucas, a more-modern package design and an ambitious marketing campaign warning consumers this re-release would be the last time the beloved films would be available in their original form.
Despite the films airing on cable three weeks before the re-release's launch--a move, he says, that "cut to the heart of our marketing challenge"--more than 22 million units of the "Star Wars Trilogy" were sold. Credit nostalgia and a $20 million marketing campaign--the biggest in the Fox unit's history--overseen by Mr. DeLellis.
It began six weeks prior to the Aug. 29 street date of the films with an Internet promotion that unofficially launched a Web site. The site retold the "Trilogy" and solicited and answered questions about the movies. The goal was to create a genuine grass-roots buzz, supported only by a national outdoor board campaign--unprecedented for a video release--that merely featured the Web site address and visages of three of the films' characters.
The site has registered 50 million hits since it went up.
As for advertising, the Fox unit enlisted Kellogg Co. Fox Home Entertainment kicked off a TV and radio campaign that ran August through September; Kellogg followed in October with TV spots for a multibrand promotion--a $7 rebate on the "Trilogy" plus an offer for a "The Making of Star Wars" video--as well as exposure on 40 million cereal boxes; and another wave began in November and ended in December, two weeks after Kellogg's media schedule concluded.
The videos were taken off the market in January because next year, Fox will release the films theatrically with new scenes. Plans for a subsequent video release have yet to be made.
By Jeff Jensen
[Source: Advertising Age, 6/24/1996, Vol. 67 Issue 26, p58]
On January 31st, 1997 The Special Edition of STAR WARS was released in theaters and was a huge success. Many of those who were old enough to have seen the original movie in theaters in 1977 now had children of their own. Those who had only ever seen it on the small screen (VHS, Laserdisc, broadcast TV, etc.) were finally able to see it on the big screen. Perhaps most important of all, the new, youngest generation of Star Wars fans wanted to go home and watch the movie again and again. Since the Special Editions would not be available to rent or buy on VHS until August of 1997, there was a huge run on the "One Last Time" editions, as well as any other editions that may have been gathering dust in a warehouse somewhere...:
'STAR WARS' STILL HOT ON TAPE
Retailers Chase Down Few Copies Available
Dateline: LOS ANGELES
The return of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo to the big screen has prompted a scramble for Fox Home Entertainment's "Star Wars" trilogy.
It's hard to believe that after selling 34 million copies of the three "Star Wars" movies, consumers want more. Believe.
Since the theatrical release of a revitalized "Stars Wars" Jan. 31, retailers have scrambled to get their hands on the relatively few remaining sets of the George Lucas series. Demand has been fueled by the original's reissue, which has grossed well in excess of $70 million.
Enhanced editions of the sequels, "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return Of The Jedi," will be in theaters over the next two months. Yet no matter how well they do, the video supply is inelastic: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment took the titles off the market Jan. 31, 1996.
"We've had an unbelievable run on 'Star Wars' over the past two weeks," says West Coast Entertainment sell-through buyer Rosemary Ruley-Atkins. "Luckily, we had a heads-up and brought in a lot of boxed sets."
Ruley-Atkins says the 531-store chain was able to stock each outlet with an average of five to seven copies of the boxed set and as many as 28. The move has paid off. Since the rerelease, West Coast has sold 15% of its "Star Wars" stock.
For West Coast and others, it's a welcome return to old times when the trilogy dominated best-seller lists at Best Buy, Musicland, and elsewhere. In all, about 7 million sets were sold.
Volume has been good this time around, and so have the margins. The trilogy has sold near its suggested retail price of $37.99. "It's not just a high-ticket item, but a high-profit margin item," notes Ruley-Atkins, who scoured the market for copies.
Virgin Megastore video buyer Marty Sikich says the seven-store chain had some copies in inventory. "Knowing how well the piece sold before and seeing the buzz about the movie, we knew people would be looking for it," he adds. "But we didn't go out of the way to bring in hundreds."
Sikich says the chain took its remaining inventory and "loaded up" its New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco locations with the product. He also called Fox, which was able to get about 100 additional sets from dealers that had more than they needed.
The first choice among retailers is the widescreen edition. But, hoping anything will do in a pinch, Torrance, Calif.-based Wherehouse Entertainment scrounged for 1,000 pan-and-scan sets for its 260 stores, according to video VP Lynn Duncan. "We've seen sales of the boxed set double over the last few weeks," says Duncan.
A spokesman for Fox says there is a "negligible" amount of "Star Wars" product available. "Maybe someone's finding a box behind another box on a shelf in their warehouse, but there's not much out there."
Nonetheless, there are no plans to take the set off moratorium. "Retailers will never see this again," says the spokesman. "And it just proves Disney isn't the only company with perennials that can be very successful."
While retailers are breathless as they chase down copies, few criticize Fox's marketing strategy. "We would have had a whole new opportunity to sell the trilogy. But not to the degree as before," Duncan maintains.
Sikich concurs. "I don't disagree with what Fox did, and I see why they would want to start again with a clean slate. Let's hope there's something in the works for the end of the year."
At this point, the theatrical revival won't spread to video. However, the studio generally plays its hand close to the vest. "Independence Day" in 1996 and "Speed" the year before were dropped into the supplier's fourth-quarter lineup at the last moment.
"If we had an enhanced 'Star Wars' for $19.95 or $24.95 in September or October, it would be a big, big seller," says Sikich.
The enthusiasm doesn't carry over to the animated kid-vid spinoffs that are new to retail. "We did very little with them," says Tower Video video product manager Cliff MacMillan. "We don't think there will be a surge. People want to see the original."
Two tapes, "The Ewoks: The Haunted Village" and "Droids: The Pirates And The Prince," arrived in stores Feb. 11 priced at $14.98 each.
Sikich says Virgin won't buy heavily. "We're not bringing the cartoon in a major way," he notes, but cautions, "Anything with the 'Star Wars' name has the magic touch." Borders Books & Music agrees and has placed a big order for the animated series.
It's also depending on Fox's marketing muscle to drive sales, according to the chain's kids buyer, Kevin Maher. "If anybody else were releasing this, we wouldn't have ordered as much, but we have complete faith in Fox's marketing and their ability to create as much interest in the animated series as for the movies."
Borders will carry 5-15 copies in each of its 140 stores. That's double the size of the buy for a new Disney sing-along title.
BY EILEEN FITZPATRICK
[Source: Billboard. 2/22/97, Vol. 109 Issue 8, p77]
I never studied any kind of marketing in school, but I hope this made it into textbooks everywhere. People bought the THX 'faces' set, then they bought tickets to see the Special Editions, then they went out and bought new VHS sets of those! Later, of course they would be talked into buying DVD versions and then Blu-ray versions too! Perhaps I'm just a sucker, but I bought:
- 1987 Full Screen VHS
- 1992 Wide Screen VHS
- 1993 Laserdisc
- 1997 SE Widescreen VHS
- 2004 DVD
- 2006 DVD
- 2011... I could not bring myself to buy it again on Blu-ray... But I did receive it as a gift.
Those are just the versions I bought new. I have also acquired a few other used versions for use on this site. However, if the original theatrical version (the version shown in theaters in 1977) is ever remastered and restored and released on Blu-ray, (or whatever the future format will be - Streamable 4k ?) I would buy it again for sure...