Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Earns $900,000 in First Weekend Return to Theaters

While 2020 may be an unprecedented year on a lot of fronts, but even as the world deals with a number of challenges there are also things to celebrate -- including the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. The beloved Star Wars film hit theaters in May 1980 and while celebrating the milestone anniversary of the film back in May wasn't possible due to COVID-19 related movie theater closures, The Empire Strikes Back returned to select theaters on September 25th -- and brought in a pretty impressive box office haul with over $900,000.

Originally released on May 21, 1990, The Empire Strikes back is the sequel to 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope, though with the addition of the prequel trilogy, the film is actually the fifth chapter of the overall Skywalker Saga. In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) face attack by the Imperial forces and its AT-AT walkers on the ice planet Hoth. While Han and Leia escape in the Millennium Falcon, Luke travels to Dagobah in search of Yoda. Only with the Jedi master's help will Luke survive when the dark side of the Force beckons him into the ultimate duel with Darth Vader (David Prowse).

Plans for the 40th anniversary screening of the beloved film were teased earlier this year but became a bit complicated due to the pandemic. The original approach for the anniversary screenings was to a 4K remaster of the original film, but when the coronavirus pandemic saw a number of production houses temporarily shutting down due to quarantine protocols, crafting the updated version of the film proved too daunting. The version that will be landing in theaters is reportedly a 2K scan of the film, which is still an upgrade from previous releases.

Another challenge about this release is that movie theaters around the world, especially in the United States, are still largely shuttered as they attempt to find the safest ways to allow patrons to return for screenings. Earlier this month, Christopher Nolan's latest film Tenet marked the first major new release to debut in theaters, though to disappointing numbers. Reports claim that, due to that underwhelming box office performance of the film, a number of upcoming films have delayed their releases. Wonder Woman 1984, for example, was originally slated for release in October, only for Warner Bros., who released Tenet, to instead announce shortly after the release of Nolan's film that the film would be delayed until December.


Still even with the challenges, The Empire Strikes Back's re-release has done well. The film came in fifth this weekend at the box office just behind the opening of the BTS tour movie, Break the Silence: The Movie.