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The story of why the end of ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back’ changed after its premiere

We know very well that the month of May, and especially on the 4th, the existence of one of the most important sagas of popular culture is celebrated: Star Wars . Furthermore, in this intricate year 2020 they are fulfilled 40 years of the franchise's second film – the fifth according to chronology – which was released in theaters: The Empire Strike Back .

On the occasion of this anniversary, the official site of Star Wars released a surprising anecdote about this film. And it is that the end of The Empire Strikes Back was changed at the request of George Lucas, shortly after its release in theaters! A little known fact that is truly extraordinary for any feature film.

Officially The empire strikes back was released on 21 May 1980 . However, Tom Smith, manager of Industrial Light & Magic, received a call a few weeks earlier that would take his breath away. Turns out, George Lucas called him to say they needed to shoot some extra scenes for the movie. And is that Lucas had just seen the finished tape – remember that Irvin Kershner was the director of that second installment – and it seemed to him that the end was very ambiguous .

New takes for a new ending to 'The Empire Strikes Back'

Of course it was not only a surprise request, it was also scandalous. It is said that Smith's response was incredulous, since the premiere of The Empire Strikes Back was just around the corner . It should be noted that said release date, that of 21 of May 1980, included a “reduced” number of rooms, since the film would be exposed in that first stage in 70 mm., a special format that not all cinemas had. Instead, three weeks after those special screenings, the feature film would arrive in format 35 mm. to the bulk of the rooms.

For George Lucas the main ambiguity in The empire strikes back was that it was not clear where in the galaxy the main characters were . That is, where Chewbacca and Lando were in relation to Luke, Leia and the beloved C-3PO and R2-D2 droids. Also, where was the Millennium Falcon in relation to the medical ship where Luke was recovering? For Lucas everything was terribly confused in the version he had seen. That's why I was determined to fix it before the release of the movie on 18 of June.

With everything and the resistances that could have been, Lucas became a small group for his company. The new ending was put together with three takes. One that clarifies where the rebel fleet is, another in which Chewbacca and Leto are seen traveling in the mythical ship: the Millennium Falcon. Finally, Lucas wanted to make it clear that the Skylwalker brothers were on board the medical ship at a great distance from the rest of the characters.

In record time

Like everything in those early Star Wars tapes , these shots from the end of The Empire Strikes Back required new models or models to do it. Despite everything, the shots were carried out, even in record time. Lucas is said, jokingly, to Smith: “Wait a minute. If you did this so fast, why did everything else take so long?” .

When the public enjoyed The empire strikes back on 18 of June was not disclosed then that it had a new ending , that is, in relation to the version in 70 mm. released a few weeks before. On the same official site of Star Wars , where this curious and interesting anecdote is told, it is said that the end was praised by a highly respected critic of the moment, because he said that “ The Empire Strikes Back ” invited its audience back. There is no doubt that George Lucas knew what he was doing.

Remember that the entire saga of Star Wars can be enjoyed through Disney Plus.

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