The Empire Strikes Back is going to open in North American theaters next week in honor of its 40th anniversary. Movie theaters are still struggling with reopening and getting customers back into the seats due to the ongoing public health crisis. Even Christopher Nolan's highly anticipated Tenet was not able to get people back into theaters like he and Warner Bros. thought it would. With that being taken into consideration, the second movie in the original Star Wars trilogy is still coming back to theaters.
The Empire Strikes Back is regarded by many to be the best of the original Star Wars movies and its 40th anniversary screenings might get some fans back into theaters. Tenet wasn't able to, though that might be due to some early negative and lukewarm reviews from critics and international audiences who were able to see the movie ahead of North American audiences. It will be interesting to see what happens next week, but it would not be surprising to see movie theaters have to shut their doors again in the near future.
The Empire Strikes Back has a darker tone than A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, which is why a lot of Star Wars fans gravitate towards it today. Harrison Ford originally wanted the second installment to kill off Han Solo, but George Lucas wasn't having it. After getting frozen in carbonite and delivered to Jabba the Hutt by Boba Fett, Ford's Solo character was rescued by Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker, and Lando Calrissian. Even still, leaving fans with that kind of cliffhanger was a gamble at the time.
Rian Johnson took a lot of influence from The Empire Strikes Back when he was crafting The Last Jedi, which was heavily divisive upon its release. However, time is already proving to be kinder to the movie that flipped the script on the Star Wars franchise. J.J. Abrams has been accused of playing it too safe with The Force Awakens and then accused of retconning everything Johnson accomplished in The Rise of Skywalker. Whatever the case may be, the idea to change things up and deliver something unexpected was directly influenced by The Empire Strikes Back.
The Empire Strikes Back will open in North American movie theaters starting on September 25th, though early screenings will be held on Thursday, September 24th. So far, the reactions from Star Wars fans to the 40th anniversary screenings have been mixed at best, which is to be expected. Some people are more than willing to go sit inside a movie theater currently, while others are scared at even the thought of sitting in a room with strangers for over two hours. Regardless, the movies will be screening, no matter how many people buy the tickets. You can check out the announcement above, thanks to the official Star Wars Twitter account.