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SYFY WIRE Box Office

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back tops box office for first time since 1997 re-release

By Josh Weiss
Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back

More than 20 years after it was re-released in theaters, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is once again ruling the box office part of the galaxy. According to Deadline, Episode V has already brought in $175,000 from 483 venues and should close out the weekend "between the high $400K and low $500K." These fresh sales (mainly coming from drive-in theaters) have bumped the movie's lifetime domestic gross to $290 million. Over the last five days, it's made $210,000.

Empire stayed at the top of the North American box office for eight consecutive weeks when it was first released in May of 1980. It was released again in November of '82 (when it made $13.2 million domestically) before George Lucas tweaked the special effects for the 1997 edition, which netted just over $35 million across a two-weekend run, starting in late February.

Directed by Irvin Kershner, the film is famous for its introduction of Yoda and the big twist that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father. The movie originally polarized audiences with its dark tone and downbeat ending. Today, it's considered the best entry in the original trilogy (and, let's face it, the entire Skywalker Saga) and was inducted into America's National Film Registry in 2010.

Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back

With no new releases being sent to theaters as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, studios are reissuing established properties instead. Screenings of GhostbustersJurassic Park, and Jaws between June and early July have all made an estimated half a million dollars apiece "in a given weekend on less than 500 sites," reports Deadline.

Aside from Empire Strikes Back, Disney has two other films that are among this weekend's top box-office draws. Marvel Studios' Black Panther made $110,000 in one day from 336 locations, while Pixar's Inside Out nabbed $106,000 in one day from 316 locations.