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In the Wikipedia, George Lucas gives his explanation for changing the cantina scene to having Greedo shoot first:

Star Wars creator George Lucas explained the change by stating that he wanted to make clear to children that Han had "no choice" but to shoot Greedo.

But there's also this photo of Lucas during the making of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:

enter image description here

Image source from TechRepublic.com

I read elsewhere that Lucas wanted to be sure to keep the PG rating for Star Wars, to keep it more family friendly, not surprisingly, for financial reasons. Unfortunately I can't find my source for that any longer. The reasoning given above could very well be translated to what I think I read about the MPAA rating being the reason for the change.

Is there any documentation or background showing any additional reasoning from Lucas for this change?

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    Except the original version that went to theaters DID have Han shooting first. So why would he need to change it to get a PG rating if it had already been given a PG rating with the initial release? – Jack B Nimble Dec 21 '11 at 22:38
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    Picture is hard to understand without freehand circles. – corsiKa Dec 21 '11 at 23:37
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    Han shot at Vader with no warning less than a second after seeing him. Clearly he's no stranger to gunplay. Honestly I've never seen the need for the change and the CGI "lean" is an abomination; upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3b/Han_shot_first.gif – Valorum Jan 30 '14 at 7:28
  • Also related (especially my answer, which is of course, right) ;-) ): scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/6770/… – Dronz Apr 8 '15 at 21:01
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    @JackBNimble There was no PG-13 when the original was released, so it was a question of PG or R. The new release had to be rated against an option of PG-13. – jbo5112 Feb 10 '16 at 2:12
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The only "explanation" for it is that Lucas revised the original trilogy for his own ends.

Given the tropes Lucas was intentionally emulating and spoofing with Star Wars, Han shooting first would have been acceptable had he been a villain, or at best mercenary, as implied strongly in Ep IV; by the end of Ep V, he's clearly a reluctant hero, and so, when revising, Lucas changed it to better fit the resulting overall arch.

I think it was a bad choice, it's trivial, and wouldn't have resulted in anything worse than a PG rating (he is, after all, at gunpoint and has just had his life threatened when he does so), and Greedo missing at that range with Han not actively dodging is a suspension of disbelief issue. And quite likely, even retaining Han shooting first, Ep IV would likely still be re-classed as a G-Rated film.

After all, the violence in Ep IV is mostly "clean" violence - no gore, no blood, much of it vehicle versus vehicle. Han shooting Greedo was no different on that score.

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    I agree with your answer, but not about the possible G rating. No way they get a G rating with the severed arm and blood in the cantina, Porkins agonized screams, and the charred skeletons of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, the latter shown twice if you missed them the first time. Until Anakin's roasting in Revenge of the Sith those skeletons were the most horrible image in the Star Wars franchise; if anything I'm surprised Lucas didn't edit them away. – Kyle Jones Dec 21 '12 at 0:43
  • Don't forget the incest possibility :-) – RDFozz Aug 9 '17 at 22:25
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"Except the original version that went to theaters DID have Han shooting first. So why would he need to change it to get a PG rating if it had already been given a PG rating with the initial release? – " Pg-13 didn't exist in 1977 You could get away with a lot more back then.

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    Quoting a comment from this question from Dec 21, 2011 is not a good answer. The PG-13 is a small addition and not worthy of being posted as an answer. I don't mean to sound mean, but this not a typical forum. I suggest you read the Tour under the help menu above to better acquaint yourself with this site. (You get a badge for reading it, so everyone knows who hasn't read it.) – Meat Trademark Jan 30 '14 at 11:49
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Lucas' most recent explanation is below;

"The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down."

Since the film had already secured a PG rating, digitally editing it the content would require that scene to be reassessed so it's highly unlikely he would have changed it to secure a lower rating.

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    If that's a real quote from Lucas, then it just confirms that he is incompetent. – Dronz Apr 8 '15 at 16:32

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