Sign In

Empire Strikes Back - Two 1980 Theatrical Cuts?

Author
Time

So I was reading wikipedia and discovered this

“1980: In May, The Empire Strikes Back was theatrically released.[2] After its initial opening, but before its wide release, George Lucas extended the end sequence.[4] A 70 mm print of the film differed from the more widely distributed 35 mm print in takes of dialogue, visual and sound effects, shot choices, and transitions between shots;[5] none of these changes appeared in later releases, with exception of one dialogue change.[6]”

I can’t seem to find any other information about the 2 different versions so I was wondering if anyone had a list or if someone knows where I can find the preservations for each version?

Author
Time
 (Edited)

The-long-and-the-short of it is that when the film was released on May 21st, 1980, it was a limited engagement that was shown only in 70mm prints. When the film went into general release with 35mm prints on the following June 18th, it was new a cut that included changes (some optical-effects fixes and dialogue replacements, among them) and 3 new special effects shots that increased that length of the film by 20 seconds.

Discussion of that limited-engagement cut can be found here.
http://originaltrilogy.com/topic/ESB-70mm-Soundtrack-1980-in-theatre-recording/id/12501/page/1
https://originaltrilogy.com/topic/Hopefully-the-last-70mm-vs-35mm-ESB-audio-differences-thread/id/14128/page/1
http://originaltrilogy.com/topic/70-mm-print-of-the-Empire-Strikes-Back-Differences/id/2321/page/1

Someone did a recreation of the ending of that limited-engagement cut on YouTube.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmbl8tLOfFE
The audio in that video is a vintage In-Theater recording of a screening from that alternate cut.

Details about that audio recording can be found here:
http://wideanglecloseup.com/starwarsaudio.html

Author
Time

I increasingly get the feeling one day we’re finally gonna get our hands on the full 70mm cut for viewing and discover it’s virtually identical to the later cut we’re familiar with aside from the redone final scene. I have a theory that the other supposed differences actually come from one of the prints that mistakenly got sent out with “unfinished effects” shots that we’ve also heard murmurs about over the years.

It’s just a hunch and a guess, I could definitely be wrong, but every time we get a chance to see/ hear some more of the 70mm version the expected differences never seem to materialize.

Author
Time

The 70mm visual variations were confirmed by multiple people who saw the film. You should check the Puggo Edition, a preservation of an 8mm digest print (not the full film). It includes many of the different visuals that people had only described before in the 70mm version (confirming the radar dish difference, for example), but it also has a number of different audio takes that weren’t present in any theatrical releases.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

Author
Time

I’m surprised a 70MM mag print hasn’t surfaced. Nor have loose reels in a number of years. I came upon reels for Empire and Return of the Jedi once upon a time on Ebay.

I just have a feeling they would be faded all to hell, be warped or even have vinegar syndrome.

Author
Time
 (Edited)

JadedSkywalker said:

I’m surprised a 70MM mag print hasn’t surfaced. Nor have loose reels in a number of years. I came upon reels for Empire and Return of the Jedi once upon a time on Ebay.

I just have a feeling they would be faded all to hell, be warped or even have vinegar syndrome.

Might be one of the few pieces of star wars lost to time sadly. At the very least the final scene can still be viewed in some form on youtube with audience reactions right before the jump to hyperspace as someone posted earlier. Bet lucasfilm has something somewhere digitally scanned for preservation.