Movie fans currently rush to find out when a new release will land on a streaming service, though movie fans in the '80s would often be more curious about a film's debut on network television, as not every household had a VCR. When Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back finally landed on network TV, the event kicked off with a special interruption of the traditional Sunday Night Movie introduction with a transmission straight from the Galactic Empire.
As pointed out by blogger Dinosaur Dracula on Twitter, the special intro featured clips from the film and a message from Darth Vader himself. Vader proclaimed, "Welcome. Through this intergalactic broadcast, your planet, and thousands like it, are witnessing the glorious victory of the Galactic Empire. Tonight, we will finally crush Luke Skywalker and his Rebel Alliance. This time, there will be no escape from the Dark Side of the Force when Empire strikes back."
With the events of the saga seemingly taking place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, marketing for the series didn't often reference Earth, making the above promotion an outlier in the entire Star Wars promotional campaign.
Fans of the saga who were alive at the time are sure to enjoy the trip down memory lane, especially given how movie fans have grown accustomed to on-demand entertainment. While it took seven years for The Empire Strikes Back to be witnessed on network television, Star Wars: The Last Jedi landed on Netflix six months after it hits theaters, allowing viewers to enjoy it repeatedly and as often as they'd like.
Unfortunately for Lucasfilm, the TV rights to the saga
Turner Broadcasting, which owns TNT and TBS, currently owns the TV rights to Star Wars films, which includes not just the first six films, but extends through at least Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This deal runs through 2024. Turner purchased the rights to the films for $237 million, which would require Disney to dish out that sum and likely even more if they hope to buy back the rights to the films in time for the planned Disney+ launch in 2019.
Did you catch the network premiere of The Empire Strikes Back in 1987? Let us know in the comments below or hit up @TheWolfman on Twitter to talk all things Star Wars and horror!