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'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace' gets 3-D release date

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A long time ago (last September), Lucasfilm announced plans to begin re-releasing the Star Wars movies in 3-D, starting with The Phantom Menace. Today, 20th Century Fox announced that the movie will be released on Feb. 10, 2012.

To paraphrase Darth Vader  — will this be a day long remembered?

None of the Star Wars movies were shot in 3-D, so they are undergoing a conversion overseen by Industrial Light & Magic and digital pioneer, John Knoll, who is also the co-creator of PhotoShop. During the original announcement, Lucasfilm spokeswoman Lynne Hale said they were holding back on selecting a specific date because they wanted to provide enough time to do the 3-D reprocessing properly and not rush to meet an artificial deadline.

Though the prequels were shot more recently than the original Star Wars trilogy, they include many more complicated visual effects, which makes converting them much trickier, Knoll told USA Today in September. “There are thousands and thousands of flying images,” he says. “But the nice thing about stereo (visuals) is you get this wonderful immersive effect if it’s done right.”

Knoll said George Lucas wasn’t planning on changing anything else about the films, as he did in the ’90s when the original trilogy was re-released in theaters with upgraded special effects and a controversial Greedo-shoots-first story alteration.

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