Return of the Jedi is coming back to theaters for its 40-year anniversary.
For the first time in 26 years, Return of the Jedi is coming back to movie theaters. Star Wars.com reports that in honor of the film’s 40-year anniversary, one of the greatest movies of all time can be viewed the way it was meant to be seen. Beginning April 28, showings will be available in select theaters around the country, finally letting a new generation experience the best part of the franchise, Ewoks, on the biggest screen possible.
The limited engagement follows the previous 40-year celebration for The Empire Strikes Back in 2020, which was cut back to 41 theaters due to the then-raging Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately for purists, the showing of Return of the Jedi will likely be the 1997 special edition and not the original theatrical release. Star Wars fans are divided on the special editions over 25 years after their release, but any showing and acknowledgment of the anniversary is better than nothing.
The Return of the Jedi celebrations, which include a new poster and special anniversary Funko Pop! figurines, comes at an awkward time for the Star Wars franchise. Following the disappointing sequel trilogy, which started strong with The Force Awakens before limping over the finish line with Rise of Skywalker, the franchise has pivoted to streaming shows. The Mandalorian, Andor, and Obi-Wan each showed a different side of the galaxy far, far away, expanding on the world beyond the movies by not shying away from shades of grey and morally questionable characters.
Following years of silence on new movies, Disney recently announced three more; one focusing on the birth of the Jedi Order by Logan director James Mangold, Daisy Ridley‘s return as Rey in a new film about the foundation of a new Jedi Order, and Dave Filoni with a movie about the Old Republic. It’s been four years since Rise of Skywalker was released, and it’ll be a few more before the first of the films hits theaters. When Return of the Jedi was last released in theaters, it had been 14 years since the last Star Wars film and two years before The Phantom Menace.
Back in 1983, Return of the Jedi was the perfect trilogy-ender, answering questions while leaving things open for fans to imagine further adventures of the characters. While it took over 20 years for Mark Hamil, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher to return to their iconic roles, the story was continued in comic books and novels, collectively known as the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Today, there’s a substantial part of the fan base that wishes that was the actual ending for the franchise, not because the films since have been bad, but because the climax of Luke’s journey was nearly perfect.
With the latest re-release, Return of the Jedi will add to its box office total, currently at $475 million (unadjusted for inflation). The number of theaters, and their location, for the latest Star Wars re-release, are currently unknown, so keep an eye on your local cinema for showtimes.