Flashback to a Galaxy Far, Far Away

The week of May 23rd is a landmark week in the annals of Star Wars history. Return of the Jedi hit theaters on May 25, 1983, six years to the day after the original Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) forever altered the course of space-themed Sci-Fi in 1977, not to mention special effects and movie sound.

Star Wars opened in only 32 theaters nationwide but ultimately amassed unheard-of box office receipts totaling three quarters of a billion dollars worldwide, surpassing the 1975 blockbuster Jaws to become the highest grossing film of all time—until being knocked out of the box by E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in 1982. Tickets were $4 and theaters handed out “May the Force be with You” lapel buttons. The film wowed audiences with spectacular visuals and four-channel Dolby Stereo surround sound, which set the stage for a steady stream of improvements over the years, culminating in the state-of-the-art, object based Dolby Atmos surround sound we enjoy today.

Return of the Jedi wasn’t quite as successful, raking in “only” $572 million in box office receipts worldwide. In 2004, special DVD editions of the three original films (The Empire Strikes Back being the second movie) featured Dolby Digital EX surround sound, which added a matrix-encoded center back-surround channel to create a 6.1-channel experience. EX was co-developed by Dolby and Lucasfilm THX for the 1999 release of Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace.

Worth checking out:

25 Interesting Facts About…Return of the Jedi.

20 Amazing Star Wars Facts.

58 Facts you Probably Didn’t Know About the Star Wars Movies.

Do you remember opening day for either of these epic movies? Share your story in Comments!

David Vaughn's picture
The film debuted on my birthday, but I didn't see if until 3 weeks later in George Lucas's home town, Modesto, CA. When the Star Destroyer came into the picture, I was instantly hooked!