The Star Wars Saga US Release and Re-Release History

Check out the amazing history of releases, re-releases, IMAX releases, charity releases, and Special Edition releases of the Star Wars saga!

Raise your hand if you saw Star Wars in the theater back in 1977 (my hand is raised). How about in any of the re-releases? Who saw which film when “The Force was back” in theaters?

Before home video and YouTube, fans had to wait until the films were released and re-released in theaters to see their favorite farm boy, princess, Jedi, or Gungan fighting the forces of evil in that galaxy far, far away. Imagine having to wait up to a year, or three, before seeing our heroes back in action?

To mark the anniversary of A New Hope‘s first re-release (even though it was yet to be called “A New Hope“…), StarWars.com presents a guide to every Star Wars theatrical re-rollout. I’m sure most of you reading this contributed at least 1,138% to these numbers…

Star Wars

5/25/1977
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” Star Wars is initially released in just 32 cinemas, grossing $307,263,857 during its first 18-month run.


7/21/1978 (considered by some as an extended release)
The official first US run ends on 7/20/1978, but Star Wars is re-released the next day due to its overwhelming popularity. This release is extended until 11/7/1978 and grosses an additional $33,908,317.

Star Wars re-release poster
8/15/1979
“It’s back! The Force will be with you for three weeks only.” Star Wars is re-released for the second time with the first live-action trailer for The Empire Strikes Back, and a special Kenner Toy Discount Book is given away at participating theaters. It grosses an additional $10,345,657.

Star Wars re-release poster

4/10/1981
“It’s back! The Force will be with you for two weeks only.” Star Wars is re-released for the third time, but with a major new addition: “Episode IV – A New Hope” is added to the opening crawl.

Star Wars re-release poster

8/13/1982
“The original is back.” Star Wars is re-released in theaters for the fourth time with a Revenge of the Jedi trailer. It grosses an additional $15,476,285.

Star Wars: Special Edition poster
1/31/1997
Star Wars: Special Edition is released and skyrockets to the No. 1 position for three weeks. It grosses $138,257,865, bringing its final domestic haul to $460,998,007 and its worldwide total to $775,398,007.

The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back poster
5/21/1980
“The Star Wars saga continues.” The Empire Strikes Back grosses $209,398,025 in its initial run.

The Empire Strikes Back poster
7/31/1981
The Empire Strikes Back is re-released in theaters for the first time. It grosses an additional $13,100,290.

The Empire Strikes Back poster

11/19/1982
The Empire Strikes Back is re-released in theaters for the second time. It grosses an additional $13,276,241.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back special edition poster

2/21/1997
The Empire Strikes Back: Special Edition scores a No. 1 spot at the box office for two weeks. It grosses an additional $67,597,694, bringing its final domestic haul to $290,547,067 and its worldwide total to $538,375,067.

Return of the Jedi

Return of the Jedi poster

5/25/1983
“The Saga Continues.” Return of the Jedi grosses $252,583,617 in its initial release.

Return of the Jedi poster

3/29/1985
“Return to a galaxy far, far away.” Return of the Jedi is re-released for the first time. It grossed an additional $11,252,123.

Return of the Jedi special edition poster

Return of the Jedi: Special Edition is released and hits No. 1 at the box office. It grosses $45,470,437, bringing its final domestic haul to $309,306,177 and its worldwide total to $475,106,177.

Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace

The Phantom Menace poster

5/19/1999
“Every saga has a beginning.” The Phantom Menace grosses $431,088,301 in its initial release.

The Phantom Menace poster

12/3/1999
The Phantom Menace is re-released in 360 cities in the US and Canada. All of the proceeds for this one-week engagement go to 180 charities. It grosses an additional $2.1 million.

The Phantom Menace 3D poster

2/10/2012
“Experience it for the first time in 3D.” The Phantom Menace 3D grosses $43,456,382, bringing its final domestic haul to $474,544,677 and its worldwide total to $1,027,044,677.

Star Wars: Episode II Attack Of The Clones

Attack of the Clones poster

5/16/2002
“A Jedi shall not know anger. Nor hatred. Nor love.” Attack Of The Clones grosses 302,191,252 in its initial release.

Attack of the Clones IMAX poster

“Size matters not. Except on an IMAX screen.” Attack of the Clones: The IMAX Experience grosses $8,485,488, bringing its final domestic haul to $310,676,740 and its worldwide total to $649,398,328.

Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith

Revenge of the Sith poster

5/19/2005
Revenge of the Sith grosses $380,270,577 in its initial one-time release, and has a worldwide total of $848,754,768.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Star Wars: The Clone Wars theatrical poster

Star Wars: The Clone Wars grosses $35,161,554 and has a worldwide total of $68,282,844.

On December 18, this list will have one more entry. How many zeroes and commas do you think will be in the final total?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster

Richard Woloski is a first generation Star Wars fan. He directed and produced the fan film TPZ and is now hosting the Star Wars/Disney podcast, Skywalking Through Neverland with his sweetie wife, Sarah.

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