Cinemax Makes 'Star Wars' High-Def Saga

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May the HD force be with you: Cinemax is not only airing all of the six Star Wars films during a weekend marathon next month for the first time, but it will make them available in high-definition.

The “Cinemax Star Wars Weekend Marathon” begins at midnight Friday, Nov. 10, with Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace and concludes Nov. 13 with Return of the Jedi. Throughout the weekend, Cinemax will devote its schedule to George Lucas' epic journey, giving viewers multiple opportunities to watch the films in HD for the first time.

Before blasting off in linear fashion, Cinemax on Demand users will have access to the films from Nov. 2 to Dec. 28.

HBO vice president of market development Lucinda Martinez Desir said the on-demand offerings will include 13 special features, including looks at original concept art and the making of the franchise's creatures from Lucasfilm.

Martinez Desir said the project had been in the works for about seven months: “Lucasfilm has been very involved. They've looked at every single element of the promotion and provided us with the additional content for the additional 13 segments.”

For its part, Comcast will present the films on Cinemax on Demand in HD, under the “Star Wars HD” category.

“This is most exciting because it gives old and new Star Wars fans a chance to see some of the greatest films ever made in a visually spectacular fashion,” Comcast senior vice president and general manager of video services Page Thompson said.

He noted that Star Wars is the latest leap in Comcast's push to ramp its HD on demand universe to 100 hours of programming per month. That initiative began in September, with about 75 hours and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as its centerpiece. The operator is supporting Star Wars in HD with cross-channel promotion, as well as online, on-demand barker channel and direct-mail messages.

Trading under the tagline “Order Restored … Prophecy Fulfilled,” the marathon is being backed by cross-channel spots, plus short and long-form teasers on HBO and Cinemax. On the print side, there will be ads in the Nov. 10 Entertainment Weekly. Newspapers are also part of the media plan.

Martinez Desir said there will be “Join the Jedi” events in key markets, as well as national online games and sweepstakes — the Cinemax Corellian Challenge, in which users can win weekly or a $10,000 grand prize.

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