Everyday seems like it’s Star Wars day, whether people are saying “May the 4th be with you” or it’s just some regular old day of the week when the next bit of news drops. But today happens to be a particularly special day linked with Star Wars lore. 39 years ago, on May 25, 1977, George Lucas unleashed A New Hope — then simply titled Star Wars — onto the world. Better yet, 33 years ago on May 25, Return of the Jedi was released in theaters. The rest is cultural history. To celebrate this motion picture milestone, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has unearthed a rare teaser trailer for the third movie in the epic space saga.
The teaser is from the UK, and still bears the film’s original title, Revenge of the Jedi, which was changed once Lucas realized the fighting clergymen known as Jedi he thought up aren’t technically supposed to seek revenge. That’d make them a Sith and keeping the title that way would ruin the whole mythology altogether.
Take a look below:
As the Academy explains in a post on their website:
“The Academy Film Archive holds several trailers from the United States with the initial Revenge title, all of which announcing a May 25th, 1983 release date which coincided with the anniversary of the original Star Wars stateside release in 1977. However, the Archive recently acquired a peculiar and very brief Revenge of the Jedi teaser trailer which originated from a cinema in the United Kingdom. Curiously, the title cards prominently feature a Christmas 1983 release date and the footage consists only of publicity stills set to triumphant and familiar theme music from a galaxy far, far away.”
The AMPAS mentions there are other trailers bearing the Revenge moniker, which can be found on YouTube, but this one briefly played before a double-bill re-release of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in UK in the summer of 1982. This makes the teaser the earliest look at Revenge/Return distributed to the public and shows just how late in the process Lucas and his collaborators had to scramble to change the title before the third movie had to be released.
But the other curious thing mentioned by the AMPAS is the December 1983 release date seen in the teaser. Return of the Jedi had a May release in the States, and made its way to the UK just a month later in June 1983.
The AMPAS reasons that the December release was meant to capitalize on Christmas merchandising sales, which makes perfect sense — and dollars and cents. A Star Wars movie wouldn’t be released in December until The Force Awakens swept into the end of the year in December 2015, while Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII and Gareth Edwards’s standalone movie Rogue One will both get December releases as well. Set to join the other May Star Wars movies: Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s standalone Han Solo movie and Colin Trevorrow’s Episode IX, which are slated to hit theaters on May 25, 2018 and May 24, 2019 respectively.