If years of pandemic-related closures and restrictions taught us anything, it’s that nothing compares to the thrill of watching a blockbuster film in the theater. It’s been nearly 40 years since “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” was first released on May 25, 1983, and to celebrate, the film is being re-released in select theaters for a limited time.
From April 28 to May 4 in the U.S. and April 28 to May 1 in the U.K., fans will get the chance to see the climactic third film in the original “Star Wars” trilogy on the big screen. It’s the first time in 26 years there’s been an official theatrical release.
The news was delivered first to fans at Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023 in London during the “Return of the Jedi” 40th-anniversary panel, moderated by Ming-Na Wen. Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine), Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) took the stage for a look back at the iconic film. Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) appeared on screen with prerecorded greetings.
In honor of the 40th-anniversary theatrical return, artist Matt Ferguson created a new commemorative poster, focused on Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.
“The artwork should tell a story, so for me it only made sense to give over the composition to those two characters,” Ferguson told Starwars.com. “Will Luke be turned? Is Vader going to overcome the darkness? It’s all about the pull between good and evil.”
More Big Star Wars News From Star Wars Celebration
Star Wars Celebration, which took place from April 7-10 this year in London, is more than just a look back at the stories and stars fans already know and love. It’s also a global stage for epic reveals about everything on Lucasfilm’s horizon.
Fans were treated to several major announcements throughout the weekend, with many of the biggest reveals coming straight from Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy during the Lucasfilm Studio Showcase. Here are a few of the highlights.
“Ahsoka” Will Premiere on Disney+ in August
Fan-favorite character Ahsoka Tano, first played by actress Ashley Eckstein in the animated “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” film and series, is the focus of the next live-action “Star Wars” series debuting on Disney+.
Played by Rosario Dawson, Ahsoka has already appeared in “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett,” but fans can expect a much deeper dive into the character by writer-producer Dave Filoni and executive producer Jon Favreau in the new show.
Panel attendees got the first look at a new “Ahsoka” teaser trailer. The biggest takeaway? “Star Wars Rebels” fans are in for a treat, with live-action versions of “Rebels” characters and settings occupying much of the trailer’s airtime.
The audience was also the first to learn some new cast reveals: Lars Mikkelson will play Grand Admiral Thrawn; Mary Elizabeth Winstead will be Twi’lek pilot Hera Syndulla; and Ray Stevenson and Ivanna Sakhno will play new villains Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati.
Here’s the trailer from the “Star Wars”‘ official YouTube channel.
Jude Law Plays a Jedi in ‘Star Wars: Skeleton Crew’
The audience also got an exclusive look at footage from the upcoming live-action series “Star: Wars: Skeleton Crew,” debuting this year on Disney+.
Set during the New Republic Era, during the same period as “Ahsoka” and “The Mandalorian,” the series stars Jude Law, revealed during the footage to be playing a Jedi. It follows a group of children (Ravi Cabot-Conyers, Kyriana Kratter, Robert Timothy Smith and Ryan Kiera Armstrong) lost in the galaxy and trying to find their way home.
‘The Acolyte’ Debuts in 2024
Also coming to Disney+, “The Acolyte” will take the timeline further back than live-action Star Wars has yet gone. It’s set during the High Republic era.
Leslye Headland, the show’s creator, showrunner, executive producer and director, says the story will be told from the perspective of the villains — “‘Frozen’ meets ‘Kill Bill,’” she said of her pitch to Kennedy.
3 New ‘Star Wars’ Films Announced
In perhaps the biggest news of all, Kathleen Kennedy announced that three new “Star Wars” films are in the works, broadening the timeline with the addition of two new eras.
Daisy Ridley returns as Rey Skywalker in a film directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy about Rey’s creation of a new Jedi Order, which takes place after the events of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
At the other end of the timeline, James Mangold will direct a film called “Dawn of the Jedi,” which will look at the origins of the order 25,000 years before the events in “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.”
Dave Filoni will direct a film during the New Republic era that ties together the period between “The Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.” The movie will close out the connecting stories that were told in Disney+ projects like “The Mandalorian,” “The Book of Boba Fett,” and the upcoming “Ahsoka.”
New Star Wars Animation Coming Soon
There were also plenty of announcements about animated shows in the works for Disney+. Dave Filoni announced that “Tales of the Jedi” is getting a second season. The third and final season of “The Bad Batch” will air in 2024.
Shorts series “Star Wars: Visions Volume 2” will premiere on May 4, along with “Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures,” a new show for young “Star Wars” fans that will air on both Disney+ and Disney Junior. It focuses on a group of young Jedi and their adventures 200 years before “The Phantom Menace.”