Known Johnson

September 21, 2004

Price wars on Star Wars

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 7:08 pm

As was to be expected, everyone and anyone who can carry the Star Wars Trilogy set is and a price war is heating up today. First all the online retailers listed it as a sale price of around $44.99. Then this weekend the ads in the Sunday paper were ambiguous for most stores, showing something like “Lowest Price” instead of an actual number, but CompUSA, of all places, trumped them all by stating in their ad that they would have the set for what seemed like an astounding $39.99. And then last night I happened upon a post on a forum somewhere, maybe the Ween forum, where someone claimed they knew that Fry’s would be selling the set for $36.99 – 9/21 only. This was then confirmed by a post I found in one of the Steve Hoffman forums (he’s like the sound engineer – if an album had a particularly lucid, beautiful sound, this guy was likely behind it.) So off I went to Fry’s at lunch today, with Best Buy as my backup (I would pricematch the CompUSA price with the ad, since I have no idea where a CompUSA would be around work.)

Fry’s Electronics looked like it does at Christmas – the front half of the parking lot was full, teeming with activity, cars darting around the aisles looking for spots. Inside it was even more hectic, with an unusual amount of activity in the video section, which was not to be expected. There, in the center of the CD/DVD section was one lone stand with shiny silver/black (widescreen) and gold/black (fullscreen – for suckers only) boxes, of which the widescreen boxes kept disappearing. An employee stood guard there next to a crate from which she filled the rack. Above each row was a little sign that officiated the claims I’d seen on the internet – $36.99, today only. I grabbed a box (silver/black – widescreen, of course,) inspected it for damage I would regret having settled for, and headed off to the registers. I looked back a couple times and saw the employee had given up stocking and was just handing the boxes to anyone who approached the rack.

The line was, as I said before, like it is at Christmas. I estimated there must have been about 100 people in line, 90 of which had the box in hand, and about 75 who, like me, had only the Trilogy set in hand. I saw not a single copy of the gold box – people are finally figuring out why widescreen is good, it appears. In usual Fry’s fashion, the seemingly endless row of registers was manned with about eight people, all of whom moved at as leisurely a pace as they felt like. Hey, the job pays the same whether they rush or not, right? The line moved fairly quick, and about 20 minutes after I walked in I was leaving with my precious cargo in hand.

So what’s it look like? The box is nicely printed with some tasteful embossing. Matte black and silver ink represent key elements of the series – Darth Vader’s helmet looms menacingly on the one side, and a simplified, but classy replica of the original Star Wars poster on the other. A second box pulls out of the outer box with minimal, but again, very classy color artwork. Inside of this is a nice surprise – I expected to see a big digipak flipbox like Alien Quadrilogy came in (and which is slowly falling apart!) but instead find four DVD cases, each with the appropriate artwork. It’s nice to know I can put the box portion safely away and keep the cases out for easy access. Inside each case is a cool artist’s rendering of highlights of each film, upon which the chapters are listed. Each film also contains commentary by George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt, Dennis Murren, and, on The Empire Strikes Back, director Irvin Kershner. The only disc that contains an actual booklet is Bonus Material, which explains a little bit about the contents of the four-hours worth of material on disc.

Now I just have to find time to sit down and reabsorb these classics – even these versions, altered by Lucas, are still some of the highest points cinema could hit in the 20th century. They may not be exactly what we saw in theaters in the 70s and 80s, but they’re still going to stand the test of time like few other films.

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