'Star Wars' Officially Announces 'The Empire Strikes Back' Is Returning To Theaters

Happy 40th anniversary, The Empire Strikes Back!

As every Star Wars fan knows, The Empire Strikes Back is one of the most iconic Star Wars films -- and one of the most iconic films, period -- of all time. Even if it was not incredibly well-received by fans during its initial run, it has grown to be accepted as one of the richest and most daring films in the franchise.

A few months ago, in July, Empire was leading the box office for the first time in 23 years. It has been playing at locations all throughout the summer (mostly drive-in theaters), thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and has grossed over $500,000. After its initial release on May 21, 1980, Empire held the leading box office spot for eight weeks and earned $547 million worldwide. It was the highest-grossing film of the year, and is of course part of a franchise that has now grossed over $10 billion to date. It is a huge part of why Star Wars is the fifth highest-grossing media franchise of all time, and the second highest-grossing film franchise of all time.

Given the film's long-standing success, and in celebration of the 40th anniversary, Star Wars has officially announced that the film will be returning to theaters on Friday, September 25, as per the tweet below:

Obviously, it will not be returning to all theaters, as some still have not yet reopened. However, this will be a wide release and play in most US markets.

In celebration of this film's 40th anniversary, Star Wars released the following promotional video earlier this year, which takes a look back at the magic of Empire and why it was so successful, which is sure to get many fans excited:

There was also this promotional poster:

Fans can purchase tickets on Fandango for this exciting re-release.

Some might think the film would do well, given its success at drive-in theaters throughout the country this summer, and of course its continuing popularity within the fandom. However, there is also the hesitancy of many movie-goers to consider. While some theaters have reopened despite the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance has been down due to social distancing measures and general reluctance of audiences to return. Tenet has earned a meager $36 million domestically after being out for three weeks; in comparison, Nolan's other mind-bending thriller, Inception, earned double that in just its opening weekend back in 2010.

Given that the biggest movie of the pandemic so far, Tenet, has done exceptionally poorly, and that Empire is a rerelease and therefore a movie most audiences have seen and/or can watch at home, it will be interesting to see how well the movie does. 

There is also the question that we have to face as moviegoers, which is whether it is safe to go to the cinema. While I have friends who are once again enjoying the movie-going experience, theaters in my city of Los Angeles have not even reopened yet. According to health officials, enclosed spaces can still pose a risk to the public, and so this feels like a questionable choice on behalf of Lucasfilm.

For more about that, check out Screen Rant's article, "Is It Safe To Go Back To The Cinema?", especially if you are considering going to see The Empire Strikes Back yourself.

No matter how you feel about attending the movies right now, it is exciting to see Star Wars celebrating such a huge milestone, and we especially love all of the anniversary posters, merchandise, and more coming out as a result. Whether you check Empire out in theaters or kick back and watch it at home on the couch, now is the time to revisit one of the best Star Wars films and join the celebration.

Source(s): The Direct, Variety, Screen Rant