Han Solo returned in the nick time to save Luke Skywalker and the Rebel cause at the end of Star Wars. Now he’ll have a similar chance to rescue British movie theaters.
Variety reports that a remastered 4K edition of The Empire Strikes Back will come to British theaters — sorry, cinemas — on a very American date: July 4., the day theaters are allowed to reopen in the U.K.
The move is designed to get British butts — sorry, fannies — back into seats after a roughly three-and-a-half-month closure that’s imperiled the live exhibition of films in that country just as it has in this one.
It’s founded on the same logic Disney used to lure customers to its flagship streaming service.
After all, if a massive collection of old films is enough to get people to sign up for a Disney+ subscription, then releasing particularly beloved selections from that collection into theaters should be enough to convince some folks that a trip to the movies is worth the risk.
Making the connection even more obvious is the fact that the 4K version of Empire and the rest of the Skywalker saga became available on Disney+ for the first time in late March, just as the pandemic restrictions were starting to get to people. The upcoming screenings of the film will be the first time any of the 4K restorations are shown anywhere but Disney+, and it’s honestly hard not to be jealous of the Brits for this one.
A similar move we’ve seen here in the states is the decision to push the release date of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet back two weeks, screening his Inception in its place. As the industry hopefully returns in this country, expect to see more classic films return to theaters, filling the gaps left by films either moved to streaming-only releases or delayed for weeks, months or even years.
Showing old movies that don’t need a marketing campaign also allows the studios to be more nimble, as moving around a new release means rethinking and rescheduling an entire public relations campaign. If the first week of Empire shows goes well, then there’s nothing stopping Disney from putting another Star Wars film, a Marvel movie, a Pixar movie, or a Disney classic into theaters the following week. They don’t even have to ship reels of film because it’s 4K!
There aren’t currently any plans to re-release Star Wars classics to American theaters, but as theaters across the country begin to open up don’t be surprised if you get a chance to see Luke, Leia, and the rest of the gang back on the big screen.