On this day in 1977, the world was changed forever when Star Wars: A New Hope was released in theaters for the very first time. The franchise has been all over the place since then, but the conclusion of the original trilogy first came to us in 1983 in the form of Return of the Jedi, which as many hardcore Star Wars fans know was originally titled Revenge of the Jedi. Well, a very cool piece of Star Wars history relating to that has just surfaced online for the first time.
The Academy has a massive film archive, and they recently acquired a never before seen teaser trailer for Revenge of the Jedi. Certain marketing materials for the film made it out into the public before the name change was in place, and this just so happens to be one of those rare gems. What is more curious though, is the fact that the title card featured in the trailer has a Christmas 1983 release date, when in fact Return of the Jedi wound up coming out in May of that year.
This particular trailer was shown very briefly in the United Kingdom in 1982 during a double feature run of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back in the summer, which wound up running from May until December. The Christmas 1983 release date touted in the trailer had to do with talks that went on between Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox. The studio originally felt that a Christmas release date in the U.K. would make sense because it would allow for easier merchandise tie ins and would give people in the country a chance to get out around the holidays. Though there are other brief trailers for the film that feature Revenge in the title, this one is significant because it is the only one with the release date also changed.
The trailer is very brief and the quality of the film is a bit rough, but it does feature familiar John Williams's score and a quick glimpse at pretty much every major character in some form of what would become a very iconic shot from the series. There is no actual footage in the trailer, it is mostly just flashing title cards and stills with a seemingly odd color pallet for what we've come to know from Star Wars in general. What is also interesting is that the last text to flash before showing off the characters in the film says "the next exciting chapter," which kind of implies that even back then, they knew the series would continue beyond the original trilogy.
Star Wars fans all over the world covet any piece of marketing material for the film that has Revenge in the title, with original Revenge of the Jedi posters regularly selling for anywhere between $3,000 and $7,000 depending on condition. George Lucas was responsible for the name change, ultimately thinking that the Jedi wouldn't and shouldn't be seeking Revenge, so it was changed in favor of Return, which was actually the original title anyway. Be sure to watch the rare teaser for Revenge of the Jedi for yourself.