Just as everyone predicted, the Snyder Cut announcement is adding fuel to similar fan campaigns, with the most high-profile example being a petition to release a four-hour cut of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The petition itself was posted last year, but it mostly gained traction this week. It’s also the living definition of “never gonna happen.”
Reading the actual text of this Change.org petition, it seems like it may actually be a joke satirising the entitled attitude of fan campaigns.
“We think that George Lucas should do the right thing and give the fans what we deserve and what is rightfully ours,” it reads. “We love democracy, and we hope he does too…If this petition does go viral, then we will have unlimited power and if George does the right thing then he would be strong and wise and we would all be very proud of him.”
Hmm. Seems kind of on-the-nose, right? But everyone is treating it like a completely serious campaign because the situation is beyond parody. It’s totally believable for Star Wars fans to demand a four-hour cut of Revenge of the Sith because we’ve seen similar viral campaigns play out with The Last Jedi and, of course, Justice League.
If we do assume this is a “real” campaign, it shows zero understanding of Star Wars, George Lucas, or the film industry in general. Who could’ve guessed!
First of all, Lucas had creative control over the original film, so it’s not like Revenge of the Sith was drastically altered by unwanted studio interference like Justice League. The theatrical cut is the director’s cut. Secondly, Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, effectively marking Lucas’s retirement from directing movies in the franchise. And third, the idea of a “four-hour cut” is dubious at best.
When filmmakers talk about notably long early cuts of a film, they’re often referring to an assembly cut, which is more like a general outline before the director and editor start removing extraneous material. In the vast majority of cases, the mythical “four-hour cut” is not, in fact, good. It’s not a movie. It’s the ingredients of a movie.
Of course, the main reason this petition feels like a joke is…George Lucas. He’s already known for revisiting his films and making changes, and those changes are not designed to appease fans.
When he tweaked the original trilogy for re-release, he added widely-reviled CGI elements to the vintage practical effects, including a clunky new version of Jabba the Hutt, a ghostly Hayden Christensen cameo at the end of Episode VI, and an absurdly prominent role for the CGI alien Sy Snootles in Jabba’s palace. He also altered that iconic shoot-out between Han Solo and Greedo, leading to the “Han Shot First” meme.
Of all the beloved geek-culture filmmakers in Hollywood, George Lucas is perhaps the least likely to care about fan petitions. He’s a 76-year-old curmudgeon with a very specific personal vision for his work, and when that vision doesn’t intersect with fans or critics, well, tough luck. And unlike Zack Snyder, he doesn’t interact with fandom on social media. A four-hour Revenge of the Sith cut isn’t happening, and to be perfectly honest, I suspect the poll’s creators would agree.