The original, unaltered Star Wars trilogy is rumored to be re-released this year to mark the 40th anniversary of A New Hope.

While fans have speculated for years that George Lucas will finally release the first edits of the iconic 1977, 1980 and 1983 films to the public in a variety of formats, a concrete announcement appears imminent.

Numerous industry sources have informed fan site Making Star Wars that the original edits are on their way.

This is a big deal for diehard fans, many of whom argue the versions they saw in cinemas during the late 70s and early 80s are far superior to the versions later released to the public.

Lucas has made numerous changes to the original films over the years, mostly to do with sound and visual effects. But the director and screenwriter is also notorious for making subtle but important plot tweaks that have infuriated his original fan base.

Take, for example, what is perhaps the most contentious scene in Star Wars history. In the 1997 cut of A New Hope, it is the villain Greedo who fires a shot at Han Solo a mere second before the smuggler returns fire

But in the original edit, Harrison Ford’s iconic character is the only one to discharge his firearm.

The remastered scene where Jabba the Hut is introduced in The Return of the Jedi is also a big sticking point for fans.

Should Lucas release the original cuts, it will be welcome news for those who have had to track down illegal copies of the unaltered films online.

Either way, it will be a massive year for the cash-cow that is Star Wars. 2016 standalone film Rogue One is due to be released online in March and DVD and Blu-ray the following month.

The next instalment in The Force Awakens trilogy, set a generation after the original films, is also due to hit cinemas in December. It will be the last film starring Carrie Fisher, who died from a heart attack shortly after Christmas Day last year.

While Lucas originally claimed the original Star Wars negatives were permanently altered during the 1997 remake, it was later revealed other originals are in existence.

The 40th anniversary of A New Hope occurs on May 22.

Meanwhile, the annual Star Wars Celebration kicks off in Orlando in April, with organizers promising an “epic tribute” to mark the saga’s 40th anniversary.

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