George Lucas to release Star Wars in 3D

Ray Park as The Phantom Menace's Darth Maul Episode I: The Phantom Menace will be the first in the series to be rereleased

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The entire Star Wars film saga is to be converted into 3D, director George Lucas has announced.

A statement on the Star Wars website said: "The cutting edge conversion will take that immersion to the next thrilling level."

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace is expected to be released in 2012, with the other films to follow.

Last month, it was announced that 3D films had helped boost UK box office takings by 8%.

It had been reported that Lucas had delayed converting the Star Wars movies into 3D until there were enough screens available to screen them.

Following the success of James Cameron's Avatar, which broke several box office records, 3D movies have become more common.

This year, Alice In Wonderland, Toy Story 3 and Shrek Forever After were all released in 3D and proved to be a big hit at cinemas.

But reactions to the news about Star Wars have been mixed.

"Watching TPM (The Phantom Menace) in 3D would be like the car actually crashing into your face as opposed to just unfolding before your eyes," British Star Trek actor and science fiction fan Simon Pegg said on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Another user dubbed GeorgeMcCallum added: "Do you not think that Star Wars in 3D may ruin the context of the film, messing around with a movie which is already so popular?"

George Lucas Lucas directed the first Star Wars film in 1977 and also its three prequels

Industrial Light & Magic, the part of Lucas's production company Lucasfilm that specialises in visual effects, will supervise the project.

ILM's John Knoll said: "Getting good results on a stereo conversion is a matter of taking the time and getting it right.

"It takes a critical and artistic eye along with an incredible attention to detail to be successful. It is not something that you can rush if you want to expect good results.

"For Star Wars we will take our time, applying everything we know both aesthetically and technically to bring audiences a fantastic new Star Wars experience."

In April, DreamWorks announced the first three Shrek movies would be converted to 3D.

It has also been reported that Warner Bros has plans to rerelease the Harry Potter films in the newly revived format.

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