Disney Scraps Plans to Release Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in 4K

Last month, Disney announced that they would be bringing the 4K ultra HD edition of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back to theaters in the United Kingdom in honor of the movie turning 40 this year. However, according to a new report from Variety, they have since rolled back the decision. However, they still plan to screen the standard 2K version of the beloved sequel. Currently, the 4K version is only available to watch on Blu-ray or Disney+.

"Disney's about-face on a 4K The Empire Strikes Back release in cinemas is, in many ways, indicative of the moving parts facing studios and exhibitors as they look to rebound amid a global pandemic," Variety explains. "Just a week ago, Disney was forced to push Mulan from its July 24 release date to Aug. 21, off the back of Warner Bros. moving the hotly anticipated Tenet from July 31 to Aug. 12." Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was set to be the first original Star Wars movie to be seen on the big screen in 4K, so this news will likely disappoint some fans who were looking forward to the experience.

Marvel Comics celebrated the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back by relaunching its ongoing Star Wars series, which had the best-selling comic book of the past decade. The original series took place between A New Hope and Empire, but the new volume brings the heroes into the darker period between Empire and Return of the Jedi. Marvel then surprise launched Star Wars: Doctor Aphra on Star Wars Day, bringing the original Star Wars character created by Marvel into the post-Empire era.

Back in May, StarWars.com looked back at George Lucas witnessing how the final scene played out after the film landed in select theaters. The director found a way to tweak the ending before the rest of the world saw it. The film first debuted in 70mm in more than 100 theaters on May 21, 1980, with its 35mm release not happening until June 18th. In the final scene in which Luke, Leia, C-3PO, and R2-D2 are on the medical frigate while Lando and Chewbacca are on the Millennium Falcon, Lucas thought the geography of the sequences was confusing as it played out in that initial release in regards to where all the characters were. Lucas then contacted the film's editor and the ILM team to let them know they needed to add some shots to help clarify the sequence before the film went wide. You can head to StarWars.com to see the full breakdown of the slight differences between that initial 70mm release and the modifications made for its 35mm release.


Are you disappointed that The Empire Strikes Back will no longer be shown on the big screen in 4K? Tell us in the comments!