Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

George Lucas wasted no time in following up his box office smash Star Wars with the next chapter in the saga. Marking this next as Episode V, it was about this time that the reported plan from Lucas would be a trilogy of trilogies. This later turned out not to be the case as the film productions became too spread apart - with the current schedule, the series would not be complete until at least 2015. So, it was decided to stop at Episode VI. Far too stressed out from the first installment, Lucas turned over the directorial duties to Irvin Kershner.

Episode IV left us with the destruction of the Death Star, but not the evil Empire or the dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader. The Rebels lead by Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker are successfully evading the Empire to the point where they are searching every planet in the galaxy. Han Solo has remained with the Rebels, but with the price on his head from Jabba the Hutt, he dare not stay any longer. As he readies to leave, the Empire finds the encampment on the frozen world of Hoth and the Rebels are forced to flee. Luke departs for the Dagobah system to continue his Jedi training under Jedi Master Yoda, while Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO continue to evade the Empire in the Millennium Falcon. Their escape takes them to the cloud city of Bespin where we meet the previous owner of the Falcon, Lando Calrissian, who is the administrator of the city. Unfortunately, the Empire has already arrived and is setting a trap to capture Luke Skywalker. With Leia, Han and the others as bait.

The Empire Strikes Back managed to open on just 126 screens in May 1980. As with the first installment word of mouth quickly spread and with good cause - many consider Empire to be the strongest of any of the five films made to date. By it's fifth week, the film had picked up another 700 screens and by the end of July, ten weeks into it's run, it was playing on nearly 1,300 screens across the country.

The film had a reported budget of $18 million. The original release in 1980, followed by a re-release in 1982 and the Special Edition release in 1997 managed to bring the world wide gross on the film to a reported $577.2 million.

LucasFilm released the LaserDisc and CED editions in the US. To cut down on production costs - and issue the picture on two sides, CBS/Fox Video time-compressed the film from it's original 125 minute length to just under 120 minutes. No film is removed, the entire program is simply sped up 4%. The speed increase is significantly more noticeable on this film that it was on Episode IV. All Full Frame Extended play versions released in the US are time compressed - including the 1992 Digital Sound reissues.

In Japan, LucasFilm issued The Empire Strikes Back on LaserDisc and VHD. CBS/Fox Video in Japan was more concerned with preserving the correct running time than reducing production costs. All versions of The Empire Strikes Back issued in Japan are at the correct running time.

In 1997 when LucasFilm issued an updated version of The Empire Strikes Back to the theaters, the videodisc versions of the film were issued once in the US in a box set with the balance of the Trilogy, and in two box sets in Japan (released in 1997 and 2000) as well as an individual stand-alone release.

Updated: July 27, 2003
Send comments and mail to: Star Wars
©2003 Blam Entertainment Group