Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back stunned audiences when it first hit theaters in 1980. It’s darker tones and cliffhanger ending were a stark departure from the feel-good, celebratory conclusion of its 1977 predecessor. Misunderstood at the time, Empire grew to become what is universally regarded as the best film of the entire Star Wars franchise. Now, some forty years following its original release, it sits atop the box office rankings once again.
The entertainment industry remains stalled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. That’s not stopping movie goers, however. They are flocking to those places where they can watch their favorites in the safety of their own space. No, we’re not talking their living rooms while watching streaming services. Like The Empire Strikes Back, what was once old is new again: drive-ins.
The Empire Strikes Back tops the box office
In its original run, Empire held the top box office notch for two months straight. The special edition, seventeen years later, once again reigned in theaters world-wide. Now, in 2020, The Empire Strikes Back continues to fill Disney’s coffers and add to its ever-growing $10.3 billion haul at the box office. Frankly, given the odd circumstances in which we live, this shouldn’t come as too big a surprise.
In troubled and challenging times, people will often look to those things that comfort them. A comfy old, sweatshirt, perhaps, or maybe your favorite snack food. When it comes to entertainment, though, people cling to the classics. George Lucas famously once apologized for The Empire Strikes Back. It’s staying power, however, some forty-years later, proves that no apology was ever necessary. The second installment of the original trilogy still resonates, and likely will for decades to come.
If nothing else, The Empire Strikes Back sitting atop top of the box office also highlights the resiliency of the entertainment industry. To paraphrase Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, life in the film business, uh, finds a way.