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'Star Wars' saga to become available as hi-def digital downloads

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Lucasfilm Ltd.

The films from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away are getting with the times: Star Wars is finally going to be available as a digital download.

All six previous films, from 1977’s original Star Wars (a.k.a. A New Hope) to 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, will be available starting April 10 as a collection or individually at digital retailers that include iTunes, Google Play, VUDU, Amazon, Xbox Video, Playstation Store, and Verizon Fios, Lucasfilm announced tonight.

The move comes as Lucasfilm prepares to release the seventh movie in the series, J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens, which will hit theaters next December.

Each movie download of the previous films will come with a pair of new (or never-before-seen) bonus features: a “Conversations” Q&A with the artists who helped bring the saga to life, and a behind-the-scenes “Discoveries From Inside” documentary focusing on subjects such as miniatures, costumes, or bloopers. They’ll also be accompanied by some extra features from previous releases of the movies.

EW has an exclusive clip from one of the new “Conversations,” in which pioneering sound designer Ben Burtt—who often used ordinary real-world sources to create the exotic sound effects of Wookiees, droids, and starships—discusses his process with fellow sound designer Matthew Wood.

In the brief scene from the documentary, which will accompany Attack of the Clones, Burtt recalls going to an actual rocket launch to capture explosive roars that he hoped to transform into the sound of the thrusters on the massive, Imperial Star Destroyers. Unfortunately, that didn’t go as planned—but he found the sound that trip in a much more unlikely place: his hotel room.

Here are the bonus features that will accompany each of the new digital Star Wars films being released Friday:

• STAR WARS — EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE

Conversations: Doug Chiang Looks Back. The design director showcases his Star Wars conceptual drawings and models and discusses his collaboration with George Lucas.

Discoveries From Inside: Models & Miniatures

Previously released bonuses: “The Beginning”; The Podrace: Theatrical Edit; plus eight deleted scenes.

• STAR WARS — EPISODE II:  ATTACK OF THE CLONES

Conversations: Sounds In Space. Original Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt and his “apprentice,” Matthew Wood, who worked with him on the prequels, discuss how they built the distinctive sound effects of the galaxy.

Discoveries From Inside: Costumes Revealed

Previously released bonuses: “From Puppets To Pixels: Digital Characters In Episode II”; State Of The Art: The Previsualization Of Episode II; and “Films Are Not Released, They Escape”; plus Visual Effects Breakdown Montage and six deleted scenes.

• STAR WARS — EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH

Conversations: The Star Wars That Almost Was. Jonathan Rinzler and Pablo Hidalgo, historians for the Star Wars universe, reveal how the stories we know almost went in very different directions.

Discoveries From Inside: Hologram & Bloopers

Previously released bonuses: Documentaries “Within A Minute: The Making Of Episode III”; The Journey Part 1; and The Journey Part 2; plus six deleted scenes.

• STAR WARS — EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE

Conversations: Creating A Universe. Production designer Roger Christian and concept artist (turned director) Joe Johnston discuss building the Millennium Falcon and other iconic pieces of the Star Wars universe.

Discoveries From Inside: Weapons & The First Lightsaber

Previously released bonuses: “Anatomy Of A Dewback”; Star Wars Launch Trailer; plus eight deleted scenes.

• STAR WARS — EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Conversations: The Lost Interviews. Never-before-heard interviews with Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and others from the making of the original Star Wars.

Discoveries From Inside: Matte Paintings Unveiled

Previously released bonuses: “A Conversation With The Masters” (2010); “Dennis Muren: How Walkers Walk”; “George Lucas On Editing The Empire Strikes Back 1979”; and “George Lucas On The Force: 2010”; plus six deleted scenes.

• STAR WARS — EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI

Conversations: The Effects. Visual effects artists dive into the groundbreaking technological advances that Star Wars made possible, including “accidents” that paved the way for innovation.

Discoveries From Inside: The Sounds Of Ben Burtt

Previously released bonuses: “Classic Creatures: Return Of The Jedi”; “Revenge Of The Jedi Teaser Trailer”; Return Of The Jedi Launch Trailer; “It Began TV Spot”; “Climactic Chapter TV Spot”; plus five deleted scenes.