Happy 30th, “Empire” - Cinema Treasures (2024)

[b]HAPPY 30TH, “EMPIRE"
REMEMBERING "THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK” ON ITS 30TH ANNIVERSARY

Compiled by Michael Coate[/b]

Dedicated to:
Leigh Brackett (Screenwriter), 1915-1978
John Barry (Second Unit Director), 1935-1979
Graham Freeborn (Chief Make-Up Artist), 1938-1986
Jack Purvis (“Chief Ugnaught”), 1937-1997
Alec Guiness (“Ben ‘Obi-Wan’ Kenobi”), 1914-2000
Terry Liebling (Casting), 1942-2001
Des Webb (“Snow Creature”), 1932-2002
Bruce Boa (“General Rieekan”), 1930-2004
Peter Diamond (Stunt Coordinator), 1929-2004
John Hollis (“Lando’s Aide”), 1931-2005
Michael Sheard (“Admiral Ozzel”), 1938-2005
David Tomblin (First Assistant Director), 1930-2005
Gareth Wigan (20th Century-Fox Executive), 1931-2010

Has it really been thirty years since the world was introduced to Yoda, the Imperial March and the thought that Darth Vader might be Luke Skywalker’s father?

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of (one of) the greatest sequel(s) ever made, I thought I’d present a package of information that includes some production history, historical data, trivia, and, for movie-theater enthusiasts, a list of the theaters in which Empire played upon its initial release. Those who saw the movie in one of the featured venues can reminisce about the experience while others can imagine what the experience must have been like.

So, without further ado, enjoy this quick-reference anniversary tribute to The Empire Strikes Back (AKA Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back).

PRINCIPAL CAST & CREW
Luke Skywalker — Mark Hamill
Han Solo — Harrison Ford
Princess Leia — Carrie Fisher
Lando Calrissian — Billy Dee Williams
C-3PO — Anthony Daniels
Darth Vader — David Prowse
Chewbacca — Peter Mayhew
R2-D2 — Kenny Baker
Yoda — Frank Oz

Director — Irvin Kershner
Producer — Gary Kurtz
Screenplay — Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan (Screenplay), George Lucas (Story)
Executive Producer — George Lucas
Production Designer — Norman Reynolds
Director of Photography — Peter Suschitzky, BSC
Editor — Paul Hirsch, ACE
Special Visual Effects — Brian Johnson, Richard Edlund
Music — John Williams
Associate Producers — Robert Watts, James Bloom
Design Consultant and Conceptual Artist — Ralph McQuarrie
Make-up and Special Creature Design — Stuart Freeborn
Costume Designer — John Mollo
Sound Design and Supervising Sound Effects Editor — Ben Burtt
Production Sound — Peter Sutton
Re-Recording — Bill Varney, Steve Maslow, Gregg Landaker

Distributor — 20th Century-Fox
Production Company — Lucasfilm Ltd.
Release Date — May 21, 1980
Running Time — 124 minutes
Projection Format — Scope
Sound Format — Dolby Stereo
MPAA Rating — PG

NUMBER$

1 = Rank on list of top-grossing films of 1980
1 = Rank on list of top rentals of 1980
2 = Number of Academy Awards received by Empire
2 = Rank on all-time list of top rentals at close of run (worldwide)
2 = Rank on all-time list of top-grossing films at close of run (worldwide)
3 = Number of Academy Awards for which Empire was nominated
3 = Rank on all-time list of top rentals at close of run (domestic)
3 = Rank on all-time list of top-grossing films at close of run (domestic)
8 = Number of consecutive weeks Empire was the United States' top-grossing film
12 = Rank on current list of all-time top-grossing films (adjusted for inflation)
59 = Number of days it took for Empire to surpass $100 million
61 = Number of weeks Empire played in its longest-running engagement
63 = Rank on current list of all-time top-grossing films
64 = Number of sets constructed for the production
127 = Number of opening-week bookings
204 = Number of days of principal photography
604 = Number of visual effects shots

$1.3 million = Opening-day box-office gross
$5.0 million = Amount of profit Lucas shared with cast & crew and Lucasfilm employees
$6.4 million = Opening-weekend box-office gross
$9.6 million = Opening-week box-office gross
$26.0 million = Amount 20th Century-Fox received in advances from exhibitors
$32.0 million = Production cost
$40.0 million = Amount 20th Century-Fox earned in distribution fees
$165.0 million = Cumulative worldwide box-office rental (original release)
$181.4 million = Cumulative domestic box-office gross (original release)
$208.2 million = Cumulative domestic box-office gross (original release + 1981 re-release)
$222.7 million = Cumulative domestic box-office gross (original release + 1981 & 1982 re-releases)
$290.3 million = Cumulative domestic box-office gross (original + 81, 82 & 97 re-releases)
$365.0 million = Cumulative worldwide box-office gross (original release)
$538.0 million = Cumulative worldwide box-office gross
$620.0 million = Cumulative domestic box-office gross (adjusted for inflation)

MEMORABLE DIALOGUE

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda

“Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.” — Darth Vader / “He told me enough. He told me you killed him.” — Luke / “No. I am your father.” — Darth Vader

“I love you.” — Leia / “I know.” — Han

“Laugh it up, fuzzball.” — Han

“Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately three-thousand seven-hundred-twenty to one.” — C-3PO / “Never tell me the odds!” — Han

“I don’t believe it.” — Luke / “That is why you fail.” — Yoda

WHAT THE CRITICS HAD TO SAY

“A better film than Star Wars.” — Time Magazine

The Empire Strikes Back is a worthy sequel to Star Wars, equal in both technical mastery and characterization, suffering only from the familiarity with the effects generated in the original and imitated too much by others. Only boxoffice question is how many earthly trucks it will take to carry the cash to the bank.” — Variety

The Empire Strikes Back is a lifeless copy of Star Wars propelled chiefly on the momentum of that earlier film. Without the likes of a Peter Cushing or Alec Guiness to add some dignity and solid support, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford flounder in roles that are certain to doom their careers regardless of the series' success. Critics who labeled this film ‘better than Star Wars’ must have been watching the audience instead of the performance.” — Frederick S. Clarke, Cinefantastique

“This is no ordinary sequel. Lucas and his company have used their Star Wars profits to make a film far more sophisticated in its technical effects. Lucas' imagination is as bountiful as ever, and he seems to have taken up where Disney left off. There are disappointments in The Empire, but it retains that special sense that fairy tales have — a moral dimension that touches us much more deeply than one-dimensional action adventures can.” — Gerald Clarke, Time Magazine

“The film’s problem is that the ending isn’t really an ending. So many loose ends are left dangling that one finds almost maddening the prospect of waiting three years for the third movie to resolve the situation.” — Paul Johnson, Arkansas Gazette

“Along with its breathtakingly spectacular special effects, the film is to be applauded for its ability to incorporate the themes, values and characters of the first film and move ahead without repeating itself.” — Eric Gerber, The Houston Post

“Visually, the new installment conveys a sense of generosity that surpasses even the original: in any corner of the frame one can discover a delightfully gratuitous detail — a space lizard climbing up a tree, a puff of rocket exhaust, a barely glimpsed robot — that creates a sense of a totally inhabited fantasy world. The Empire Strikes Back is a technological triumph, a cornucopia of intergalactic tchotchkes.” — David Ansen, Newsweek

Empire is the only motion-picture sequel I can think of — ever — that is not less effective than the original. Usually, the popular elements of a hit film become the ingredients of the sequel formula, repeated in the hope that large audiences will again flock to see the same things they loved the first time around. If Lucas was that kind of filmmaker, Empire would have included another cantina, another garbage compactor, another planetary destruction and another regal ending. But it didn’t. And we didn’t get the Star Trek treatment either — wherein characters we all know and love recite their standard familiar lines all over again.” — Kerry O'Quinn, Starlog

“A more impressive and harrowing magic carpet ride than its fundamentally endearing predecessor, Empire pulls the carpet out from under you while simultaneously soaring along.” — Gary Arnold, The Washington Post

The Empire Strikes Back joins The Godfather, Part II as one of the rarest of films — a sequel that lives up to and expands upon its original.” — Chicago Tribune

The Empire Strikes Back has arrived. And it’s wonderful…the audience is on its feet cheering” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Empire’s effects are dazzling but the characters are pure comic strip. ” — Bill von Maurer, The Miami News

Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, like all superior fantasies, have the quality of parable, not only on good and evil but on attitudes toward life and personal deportment and there is something very like a moral imperative in the films' view of hard work, determination, self-improvement, concentration, and idealism. It does not take a savant to see that this uplifting tone only a little less than the plot and effects is a central ingredient of the wide outreach of the films.” — Charles Champlin, Los Angeles Times

“It’s not an exaggeration to compare the world of Star Wars to the land of Oz. The Star Wars saga — a series of nine planned films — promises to be an even more complete world than Oz, and just as enduring. The appeal of visiting Oz is that it is a magical place over the rainbow. The appeal of Star Wars and, now, The Empire Strikes Back, is that it also takes us to a magical place — the childhood of our mind.” — Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

TRIVIA & FACTOIDS

In terms of box-office gross, The Empire Strikes Back is the least successful Star Wars movie.

Empire was the first Star Wars movie to feature an episode number and subtitle. (The full on-screen title is Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.) Prints of the original Star Wars were numbered and re-titled a year after Empire’s release.

The first public screening of Empire was held on May 17, 1980 in Washington, DC. Attending the event, which took place at the Kennedy Center and was a benefit for the Special Olympics, were director Irvin Kershner, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, producer Gary Kurtz, and stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Frank Oz, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, and Peter Mayhew. Important political figures that attended included Ted Kennedy, Ethel Kennedy, Eunice Shriver and Amy Carter (daughter of then-President Jimmy Carter).

The longest, most-successful engagement of Empire was a 61-week run in Seattle at the UA Cinema 150.

In a scene from One-Trick Pony, the 1980 Paul Simon film, characters can be seen exiting a New York movie theater playing The Empire Strikes Back. A large Empire logo is visible on an exit door and moviegoers can be seen carrying the film’s program booklets and comic-book adaptation.

Empire won an Academy Award for Best Sound. It also received a Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects. In addition, the film was nominated, but did not win, in the categories of Art Direction and Original Score. Other awards included four Saturns, one BAFTA, one Grammy, one Hugo, and a People’s Choice award for Favorite Motion Picture. (John Williams' Best Original Score nomination was his 15th of what has become an astounding 45 nominations, including five wins.)

Principal photography commenced on March 5, 1979, in Finse, Norway, and concluded on September 24, 1979, at EMI Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, England. The visual effects were created during 1979-80 at Industrial Light & Magic, in Marin County, California.

The production of Empire went over schedule and, as a result, was completed millions of dollars over budget. The film was financed entirely by Lucasfilm Ltd.

A fire at EMI Elstree Studios during the production of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining destroyed a soundstage which contributed to Empire going over schedule.

To complement the existing stages and to make up for the lack of a large soundstage at EMI Elstree Studios, Lucasfilm constructed what became known as the “Star Wars Stage,” which measured 250 feet long, 122 feet wide and 45 feet high, and is among the largest soundstages in the world. Scenes shot on this stage included all of the scenes with the full-scale Millennium Falcon and the scenes set on Dagobah.

Cheers and Pixar regular John Ratzenberger appeared in a small role as a Rebel officer.

Empire was released in at least five different formats in its original release: (1) 35mm with optical mono soundtrack, (2) 35mm with optical Stereo Variable Area (Dolby) soundtrack, (3) 35mm with mag-optical soundtrack (magnetic 4-track + optical mono), (4) 70mm six-track Dolby-encoded magnetic, (5) 70mm six-track non-Dolby-encoded magnetic.

Empire, at the time of its release, had the industry’s largest one-time order of 70mm prints.

The are some differences between the film’s 35mm and 70mm prints (aside from obvious differences in presentation quality). The 70mm prints were prepared and distributed first and, as such, more time was available for the filmmakers to finesse the 35mm edition. Ironically, this meant that most critics and audiences in the major markets did not see the final version of the movie. Most of the differences were subtle and editorial in nature, such as scenes beginning or ending with a different transitional effect (wipe pattern, straight cut, dissolve, etc.). Some visual effects were re-filmed and/or re-composited for the 35mm edition. Some scenes featured different takes for selected shots, and the final scene is longer in the 35mm edition, featuring additional spaceship fly-bys, an additional line of dialogue, and a brief music cue borrowed from another scene.

On Day One of its release, theaters in Los Angeles and Seattle began showing Empire at midnight and continued with an all-day, first-day marathon.

Theaters that opened Empire on the initial May 21 date were contractually required to play the movie for a minimum of 16 weeks.

In October 1980, Empire began playing in U.S. military theaters overseas. At that point in time, the original Star Wars had not been shown on the Army & Air Force Exchange Service circuit.

The “Fox Fanfare & CinemaScope Extension” music cue heard in Empire was recorded during the film’s music scoring sessions. (The cue heard in the original Star Wars was a 1954 recording. The Empire recording was used on all subsequent Star Wars movies released by 20th Century Fox and never used on any of Fox’s non-Star Wars movies.)

On its first day of release, Empire broke house records in all but two of its engagements.

Dolby Laboratories, Inc. introduced the cinema processor model CP-200 in conjunction with the release of Empire.

As with the original Star Wars, James Earl Jones provided the uncredited voice of Darth Vader. (Jones' name was added to the credits of the Special Edition version.)

Empire was a six-reel movie, even though its running time was greater than two hours. Reels are rarely longer than twenty minutes, and so a movie a few minutes over two hours typically would be on seven reels. (Empire was 124 minutes; the Special Edition was even longer — and still six reels — at 127 minutes.)

SP FX: The Empire Strikes Back, an hour-long documentary special, was broadcast on CBS-TV on September 22, 1980.

As with the original Star Wars, Meco Monardo created a disco album based on John Williams' Empire music.

Empire was re-released in 1981, 1982 (included trailer for Revenge Of The Jedi), 1983 (limited-market double feature with Star Wars) and 1997 (restored and expanded by three minutes).

The first time Empire was publically shown as part of a Star Wars triple feature was on September 3, 1984, at the 42nd Annual World Science Fiction Convention in Anaheim, California. The first time Empire was publically shown as part of a six-movie Star Wars Saga marathon was on May 23-24, 2007, at Celebration IV in Los Angeles.

Empire was released on home video in November 1984 and with a suggested retail price of $79.98. (In this age of an ever-shrinking window between theatrical and video, it is worth noting that Empire had a window of fifty-four months.)

The first cable television broadcast of Empire was in February 1986. The first network broadcast was in November 1987.

The Directors Guild of America attempted to have Empire withdrawn from release so that revised credits could be created to allow Kershner’s “Directed By” credit to appear in the opening credits. The DGA argued that placing principal credits at the end of a film violated their rules. Lucas countered claiming the credits for Empire were presented in the same fashion as the original Star Wars and nobody complained. Lucas also argued that Empire was a non-union production principally shot outside the United States and thus wasn’t bound by the DGA’s rules. The DGA insisted their rules needed to be recognized regardless of where the film was produced since the film’s director was a DGA member. Lucas refused to alter the film’s credits, settled the matter by paying a $25,000 fine, and subsequently resigned his DGA membership. The Writers Guild then followed suit by fining Lucas $15,000, which Lucas paid…and promptly quit that organization, too.

In February 1983, National Public Radio broadcast a multi-part radio adaptation of Empire.

Director Irvin Kershner was a professor at the University of Southern California while George Lucas was enrolled there as a student.

As with the original Star Wars, there was no shortage of tie-in merchandise, including Kenner’s continuing line of action figures and playsets, Marvel’s ongoing comic series which included a six-part Empire adaptation (issues 39-44), soundtrack album, novelization, making-of and art-of books, bed sheets, T-shirt iron-ons, video games, and countless other items. There was even a Christmas-themed album featuring vocals by a young John Bongiovi (who a few years later would change the spelling of his name to Jon Bon Jovi and become a rock star). Star Wars merchandise, collectively, has outgrossed the movies on which they are based.

THE ORIGINAL ENGAGEMENTS

Between May 17-20, The Empire Strikes Back had a series of charity premieres in various cities. The first screening, which doubled as the film’s U.S. premiere, was held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Listed here are the theaters in the United States and Canada that opened Empire on its initial May 21 release date. The film opened in 127 theaters in 88 markets, and all of these “first wave” bookings (except for a couple of drive-in bookings) were shown in 70-millimeter and six-track magnetic stereophonic sound.

(Also on May 21, Empire opened in London at the Odeon Leicester Square and was the only international booking to open on the same date as the U.S. and Canada. A day earlier, on May 20, the film was given a Royal Premiere with members of the Royal Family in attendance.)

The film’s release was expanded by several hundred bookings beginning the week of June 18, and by the end of the movie’s lengthy run it had played more than 1,500 engagements (plus hundreds more internationally).

The bookings list that follows has been tailored for readers of Cinema Treasures by providing links for those theaters where a dedicated page exists so readers may learn more or reminisce about a featured theater. In addition, note the number of entries for which there is no link; in other words, help get pages created for these unaccounted-for theaters.

In regard to the names of the theaters in which The Empire Strikes Back played, effort has been made to retain as often as possible any special spelling or stylization used in its promotion, including newspaper advertising and/or photographic evidence of theater marquees. There were a number of single-screen theaters still operating in 1980. However, most of the theaters in which Empire played, as you’ll glean from the list, were of the multiplex variety. In these instances, the total number of screens in a complex have been cited rather than the specific screen/auditorium in which Empire played so as to provide an historical record of how many screens were in a given complex during 1980 since many theaters expanded over the years, and historical accounts in books and websites (including Cinema Treasures) often do not accurately or comprehensively account for a venue’s screen-count timeline or alternate name history.

ALBERTA
Calgary — Famous Players Palliser Square 1 & 2
Edmonton — Famous Players Paramount

ARIZONA
Phoenix — Plitt Cine Capri

ARKANSAS
Little Rock — UA Cinema 150

BRITISH COLUMBIA
Vancouver — Famous Players Stanley

CALIFORNIA
Corte Madera — Marin Cinema
Fountain Valley — Pacific Fountain Valley Drive-In
Fresno — Festival Enterprises Festival Cinemas
Los Angeles — GCC Avco Center
Los Angeles — UA Egyptian I-II-III
Newport Beach — Edwards Newport Cinemas
Orange — Syufy Cinedome 6 (on two screens)
Paramount — Pacific Rosecrans Drive-In (on two screens)
Sacramento — Syufy Century 6
San Diego — Pacific Cinerama
San Francisco — Plitt Northpoint
San Jose — Syufy Century 22

COLORADO
Denver — Commonwealth Cooper

CONNECTICUT
East Hartford — National Amusem*nts Showcase Cinemas
Orange — National Amusem*nts Showcase Cinemas
Stamford — Trans-Lux Ridgeway

DELAWARE
Claymont — SamEric 3 Tri-State Mall

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Washington — K-B Cinema

FLORIDA
North Miami Beach — Wometco 163rd Street
South Miami — Wometco Dadeland Twin
Winter Park — Wometco Twin Park West

GEORGIA
Atlanta — Plitt Phipps Plaza Triplex

HAWAII
Honolulu — Consolidated Cinerama

ILLINOIS
Calumet City — Plitt River Oaks 1-2-3-4
Champaign — Kerasotes Virginia
Chicago — GCC Ford City Cinema I-II-III
Chicago — Plitt Esquire
Lombard — GCC Yorktown Cinema I-II-III-IV
Moline — Dubinsky Parkway
Niles — Fink Golf Mill 1-2-3
Norridge — M&R Norridge 1-2-3-4
Orland Park — Plitt Orland Square 1-2-3-4
Peoria — Plitt Madison
Schaumburg — Plitt Woodfield 1-2-3-4
Springfield — Kerasotes Esquire

INDIANA
Fort Wayne — Mallers-Spirou
Indianapolis — Y&W Eastwood

IOWA
Des Moines — Dubinsky River Hills
Dubuque — Dubuque Cinema Center

KANSAS
Wichita — Dickinson Mall

KENTUCKY
Erlanger — National Amusem*nts Showcase Cinemas
Lexington — Mid-States Northpark
Lexington — Mid-States Southpark
Louisville — National Amusem*nts Showcase Cinemas

LOUISIANA
Metairie — GCC

MARYLAND
Towson — Rappaport

MASSACHUSETTS
Boston — Sack Charles 1-2-3
Seekonk — National Amusem*nts Showcase Cinemas
West Springfield — National Amusem*nts Showcase Cinemas
Worcester — National Amusem*nts Showcase Cinemas

MICHIGAN
Bloomfield Hills — National Amusem*nts Showcase Cinemas
Burton — Plitt Eastland Mall
Harper Woods — Suburban Detroit Eastland 1-2
Livonia — Suburban Detroit Terrace 1-2
Southfield — Nicholas George Americana Complex
Southgate — Nicholas George Southgate
Sterling Heights — National Amusem*nts Showcase Cinemas

MINNESOTA
Bloomington — GCC Southtown
Brooklyn Center — Plitt Brookdale
Roseville — GCC Har-Mar Cinema I-II-III

MISSOURI
Creve Coeur — Wehrenberg Creve Coeur
Kansas City — AMC Midland 3

NEBRASKA
Omaha — Douglas Cinema Center

NEW JERSEY
Edison — GCC
Lawrenceville — SamEric Twin Lawrenceville
Moorestown — SamEric Plaza Moorestown
Paramus — RKO Route 4 Quad

NEW YORK
Cheektowaga — AMC Holiday 6
Colonie — Cinema 5
DeWitt — Cinema National
Lawrence — RKO Lawrence Twin
Levittown — Loews Nassau Quad
New York — Cinema 5 Murray Hill
New York — Loews Astor Plaza
New York — Loews Orpheum
Pittsford — Loews Pittsford Triplex
Yonkers — GCC

NORTH CAROLINA
Charlotte — Plitt
Fayetteville — Consolidated Bordeaux Cinemas 1-2-3
Greensboro — Plitt Terrace 1-2-3
Raleigh — Plitt
Winston-Salem — Plitt

OHIO
Columbus — Mid-States Continent 1-2-3-4-5-6-7
Dayton — Chakeres Dayton Mall Cinemas 1-2-3-4
Springdale — National Amusem*nts Showcase Cinemas
Toledo — National Amusem*nts Showcase Cinemas
Trotwood — Mid-States Salem Mall Cinemas 1-2-3-4
Whitehall — Sugarman Cinema East

ONTARIO
Hamilton — Famous Players Tivoli
London — Famous Players Park
Toronto — Famous Players University
Windsor — Famous Players Centre

OREGON
Beaverton — LT Westgate Triplex
Eugene — LT Cinema World

PENNSYLVANIA
Allentown — SamEric Allentown 3
Bensalem — AMC Premiere 2
King of Prussia — SamEric Twin Plaza
McCandless — National Amusem*nts Showcase Cinemas North
Monroeville — National Amusem*nts Showcase Cinemas East
Philadelphia — SamEric SamEric
Pittsburgh — Cinemette Warner
Robinson Township — National Amusem*nts Showcase Cinemas West

QUEBEC
Montreal — Odeon Place du Canada

TENNESSEE
Memphis — Southern Park
Nashville — Martin Belle Meade

TEXAS
Austin — AMC Americana
Dallas — AMC Prestonwood 5
Dallas — GCC
Fort Worth — Plitt Ridglea
Houston — AMC Westchase 5
Houston — Plitt Alabama

UTAH
Riverdale — Tullis-Hansen Cinedome 70
Salt Lake City — Plitt Centre

VIRGINIA
Springfield — GCC

WASHINGTON
Seattle — UA Cinema 150
Tacoma — SRO Tacoma Mall Twin

WISCONSIN
Fox Point — Capitol Brown Port
Wauwatosa — UA Mayfair
West Allis — Marcus Southtown Cinemas 1,2,3

WORLWIDE RELEASE DATES
05.21.1980 … Canada
05.21.1980 … United Kingdom
05.21.1980 … United States
06.20.1980 … Ireland
06.20.1980 … Puerto Rico (El Imperio Contraataca [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
06.20.1980 … Virgin Islands
06.27.1980 … South Africa
06.28.1980 … Japan
07.31.1980 … Argentina (El Imperio Contraataca [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
08.07.1980 … Australia
08.07.1980 … New Zealand
08.08.1980 … Hong Kong
08.08.1980 … Philippines
08.08.1980 … Singapore
08.08.1980 … Thailand
08.10.1980 … Norway (Imperiet Slar Tilbake [The Empire Strikes Back])
08.15.1980 … Denmark (Imperiet Slar Igen [The Empire Strikes Back])
08.15.1980 … Finland (Imperium Vastaisku [The Empire Strikes Back])
08.15.1980 … Sweden (Rymdimperiet Slar Tillbaka [The Space Empire Strikes Back])
08.20.1980 … France (L'Empire Contre-Attaque [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
08.29.1980 … Belgium (L'Empire Contre-Attaque [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
09.18.1980 … Brazil (O Imperio Contra-Ataca [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
09.29.1980 … Spain (El Imperio Contraataca [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
10.09.1980 … Italy (L'Impero Colpisce Ancora [The Empire Strikes Again])
10.16.1980 … Israel (Ha-Emperia Maka Shenit [The Empire Attacks Again])
10.16.1980 … Portugal (O Imperio Contra-Ataca [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
11.28.1980 … Costa Rica (El Imperio Contraataca [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
12.10.1980 … Mexico (film festival screening)
12.11.1980 … Austria (Das Imperium Schlagt Zuruck [The Empire Strikes Again])
12.11.1980 … Switzerland (French, German or Italian depending on city)
12.11.1980 … West Germany (Das Imperium Schlagt Zuruck [The Empire Strikes Again])
12.18.1980 … Greece (I Aftokratoria Antepitithetai [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
12.18.1980 … Netherlands
12.25.1980 … Chile (El Imperio Contraataca [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
12.25.1980 … Colombia (El Imperio Contraataca [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
12.25.1980 … Equador (El Imperio Contraataca [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
12.25.1980 … Mexico (El Imperio Contraataca [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
12.25.1980 … Panama (El Imperio Contraataca [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
12.25.1980 … Peru (El Imperio Contraataca [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
12.25.1980 … Venezuela (El Imperio Contraataca [The Empire Counter-Attacks])
01.15.1981 … Uruguay (El Imperio Contraataca [The Empire Counter-Attacks])

REFERENCES

Primary references for this project were daily newspapers archived on microfilm. Periodicals referenced included American Cinematographer, Bantha Tracks, Boxoffice, Cinefantastique, The Hollywood Reporter, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Starlog, Time, and Variety. Books referenced included George Lucas: The Creative Impulse by Charles Champlin (1992, Abrams), George Lucas’s Blockbusting: A Decade-By-Decade Survey Of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets Of Their Financial And Cultural Success edited by Alex Ben Block and Lucy Autrey Wilson (2010, George Lucas Books/HarperCollins), Once Upon A Galaxy: A Journal Of The Making Of The Empire Strikes Back by Alan Arnold (1980, Del Rey/Ballantine), Skywalking: The Life And Films Of George Lucas by Dale Pollack (1983, Harmony). The following films were referenced: Empire Of Dreams: The Story Of The Star Wars Trilogy (2004, Prometheus Entertainment/Fox Television/Lucasfilm Ltd.), The Empire Strikes Back (1980, 1997, Lucasfilm Ltd./20th Century-Fox) and SP FX: The Empire Strikes Back (1980, Lucasfilm Ltd./CBS-Fox Video). Websites referenced include BoxOfficeMojo, CinemaTour, CinemaTreasures, FromScriptToDVD, and In70mm.

Canadian engagement details researched and contributed by Bill Kretzel.

Special Thanks: Serge Bosschaerts, Miguel Carrara, Bill Kretzel and Mark Lensenmayer. And a big thank-you to the many librarians who helped me research information for this project.

You are invited to share any thoughts you may have pertaining to this article or memories you have of seeing The Empire Strikes Back.

Happy 30th, “Empire”
     - Cinema Treasures (2024)
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