Disney is bringing its 4k ultra HD edition of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back to theaters in the United Kingdom, Variety reports. This news is the latest in a week of sweeping highs and lows for Star Wars fans, with the Star Wars: Squadrons trailer reveal happening around the same time as the Star Wars Celebration cancelation announcement. The 4k edition of The Empire Strikes Back, and all of the other Star Wars movies are streaming now on Disney+. Disney is bringing The Empire Strikes Back to theaters again to help bolster movie theaters struggling with the coronavirus pandemic ramifications. It'll also serve as one of many ways the company is celebrating the film's 40th anniversary.
While the entire Skywalker saga is available in 4k on Disney+ and Blu-ray, The Empire Strikes Back will be the first original Star Wars trilogy movie to screen in 4k in theaters. The film is to be carried by the UK cinema chain Vue and is said to be one of several Disney titles being offered to exhibitors prepping for the UK's July 4th reopening. Theaters closed their doors in the UK on March 16th to help combat the coronavirus pandemic and have remained closed for more than three months.
Both Vue and the Cineworld theater company, which operates Regal Theaters and other chains, are said to be planning July reopenings. While film studios are still skittish about putting new movies in theaters this summer, they appear willing to take advantage of their vast franchise libraries to bring the industry back to life.
Disney did not offer an official comment on the report.
The Empire Strikes Back is the middle chapter of both the original Star Wars trilogy and the larger Skywalker saga. Many fans regard it as the best in the franchise. Proponents note the film's darker, more mature tone than its predecessor, the depth it adds to the franchise's philosophy of the Force, multiple iconic planets and battles, and the reveal of Darth Vader's relationship to Luke Skywalker.
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.