'Empire Strikes Back' rules box office to become top re-release of 2020

'Star Wars' sequel, first released in 1980, racks up $1.923 million this year
Darth Vader in scene from 'The Empire Strikes Back'
Posted at 11:18 PM, Sep 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-28 23:18:27-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — "The Empire Strikes Back" indeed.

Not so long ago in a galaxy not so far away, what is widely considered to be the best "Star Wars" sequel was released, introducing audiences to the Mandalorian bounty hunter named Boba Fett, a scoundrel-turned-Rebel ally named Lando Calrissian and -- spoiler alert -- the revelation that Darth Vader is actually the father of Luke Skywalker.

The "Star Wars" sequel, first released in 1980, was the top-grossing re-release last weekend, finishing fourth behind a trifecta of first-run films "Tenet," "The New Mutants" and "Unhinged."

"Empire" was re-released into more than 2,000 theaters for the film's 40th anniversary, earning $908,000 at the box office.

This is the second time "Empire" has been re-released in 2020, bringing its total yearly domestic earnings to $1.923 million thus far.

That tops this year's previous highest-grossing reissue, Steven Spielberg's 1993 summer blockbuster "Jurassic Park," which earned $1.386 million in domestic box-office receipts.

According to Forbes, "Empire" has earned $550 million worldwide since its initial release in May 1980. That includes "Star Wars" creator George Lucas' reissue of the original trilogy in 1997.

Other classic movies to have found a new audience during the coronavirus pandemic -- mostly propelled by the drive-in theater market -- were Spielberg's 1975 thriller "Jaws," the 1984 summer comedy "Ghostbusters" (which set a record for the longest gap between No. 1-ranked weekends for a movie) and the 1985 time-traveling action-adventure "Back to the Future."