Saga to preem in theaters on Feb. 10, 2012

Fox and Lucasfilm have arranged a valentine for “Star Wars” fans in 2012, with saga’s first 3D-converted installment premiering Feb. 10. Conversions are being released annually in numberical order, so first up is “Episode I: The Phantom Menace” — easily the least regarded of the six-part series. So far, there are no other 3D titles slated for that date, but that could change as studios are bolstering their springtime 3D pipelines.

An increased 3D screen count also will ease the trail for “Phantom Menace.” Most bizzers expect the 3D count by 2012 to amply sustain the amount of product.

Apparently sensitive to criticism of recent 3D conversions, the studio said in a statement: “Supervised by Industrial Light & Magic, the meticulous conversion is being done with utmost respect for the source material, and with a keen eye for both technological considerations and artistic intentions.”

John Knoll, who shared vfx supervisor duties on today’s opener “Rango,” is overseeing the conversion.

Among its 2D competitsh on Feb. 10, Universal has dated Ryan Renolds-Denzel Washington starrer “Safe House,” along with Sony’s “The Vow,” toplining Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams. Weekend grosses likely won’t see much of a Valentine’s Day bump, since the holiday falls on Tuesday next year.

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