Disney is doing what it can to help get theaters back up and running again, and that includes providing access to a galaxy far, far away in Ultra HD. It has been revealed that The Empire Strikes Back, which is still widely regarded as the greatest Star Wars movie ever made, will be getting released in U.K. theaters when they reopen next month. What’s more, this will make the first time a 4K version of the beloved movie has ever been screened theatrically for the public.
According to a new report, U.K. cinema chain Vue will be showing The Empire Strikes Back in 4K when they reopen. It is said to be one of several library titles that Disney is offering distributors. Theaters in the country, much like in the U.S., have been closed down since March and the goal is to get things up and running again in July. At first, there will be little new products to show, so theaters will rely on tried and true classics to help get people back to the movies.
The Empire Strikes Back was remastered in 4K recently, as were all of the Star Wars saga movies. They were released in a huge box set to coincide with the home video release of The Rise of Skywalker and have also been made available to stream on Disney+. None of them, however, have been screened in theaters. So this is potentially a big deal. It also could open the door for other 4K versions of Star Wars movies to be screened elsewhere as the exhibition business tries to get back on its feet. The original trilogy last hit theaters in 1997 when George Lucas released the special editions.
The ongoing shutdown has been brutal for movie theaters. While most major chains are looking to open up again in July, things all around the world are looking grim. Thousands of theaters in China are expected to close permanently, AMC, the largest chain in the U.S., is saddled with billions in debut and has cast doubt on its long term viability. Meanwhile, billions in box office dollars have been lost during the months-long closure. All of this to say, getting people back to theaters is going to be hugely important for the industry as a whole.
Released in 1980, The Empire Strikes Back had to follow in the footsteps of 1977’s Star Wars, later subtitled with A New Hope which, at that time, was the biggest movie ever released. George Lucas took a step back with Irvin Kershner directing. The result was a monster hit, grossing $400 million on an $18 million budget (which eventually bloomed to $33 million when all was said and done). But, more importantly, it helped cement the franchise as more than a one-hit-wonder and it remains a truly beloved cinematic classic, transcending the genre, to this day. This news comes to us via Variety.