Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back landed in theaters in May of 1980, delivering audiences a number of exciting reveals and giving us one of the most famous cliffhangers in movie history with the reveal of Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker's father, with audiences being able to relive that excitement when the sequel screens in select theaters on September 25th in honor of its 40th anniversary. While this is far from being the first opportunity fans have had to see the film on big screens in recent years, those screenings were typically reserved to only occur ahead of the release of a new Star Wars film and as part of a marathon, coming with expensive ticket prices and the commitment to sitting through a number of films. You can head to Fandango to find participating theaters.
Plans for 40th-anniversary screenings of the film were teased earlier this year, but a number of complications have emerged in the months since that makes these screenings likely a relief for fans.
The original approach for these screenings was to release 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 likely disappointment 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.
The next Star Wars film that is set to hit theaters has yet to be revealed, though we won't be seeing it until December of 2023, marking these upcoming screenings of The Empire Strikes Back as some of the only opportunities to see any Star Wars movies on the big screen.