UPDATED (July 1): The Force is with U.K. cinemas this July as they plan to reopen doors with a remastered 4K edition of “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” Variety can reveal.
It’s understood the planned screenings mark the first time a “Star Wars” film from the original trilogy will be screened to cinema audiences in 4K. European cinema giant Vue was originally believed to be set to show “The Empire Strikes Back” in 4K, but Variety understands that, as of July 1, discussions have changed, and the film will only be shown in standard 2D definition. AMC Theatres-backed Odeon, however, is offering the remastered edition in 4K for audiences.
Thus far, the 4K edition of the 1980 film — the second title in the original trilogy, in which Luke Skywalker studies the Force with Yoda as the Galactic Empire pursues the Rebel Alliance — has only been made available on the studio’s streaming platform Disney Plus and via Blu-ray, where it was released in late March alongside 4K versions of the seven other Skywalker Saga films.
The contribution of the title is a prime example of how U.S. studios are leveraging the might of their immense libraries to help the exhibition sector get back on its feet.
Variety understands “The Empire Strikes Back” is, in fact, among a number of titles Disney is offering U.K. exhibitors, who are eyeing a July 4 reopening date.
The country’s cinemas are among the last businesses to open as part of the government’s economic recovery plan. When they do restart, it will have been more than three months since they were first shuttered across the week of March 16.
Cineworld confirmed Tuesday that it will reopen its U.K. and U.S. cinemas on July 10. The Mooky Greidinger-run firm operates cinema chains Regal in the U.S., Cineworld and Picturehouse in the U.K. and Ireland, Cinema City in Europe and Yes Planet in Israel.
Vue is also believed to be eyeing an early July restart across most of its U.K. cinemas. The business released in May a number of COVID-19 measures that it plans to instate across its venues, including physically isolating family groups through Vue’s online booking systems, staggering film times to maintain social distancing and introducing enhanced cleaning and employee protection protocols.
Disney declined to comment for this story.