The Star Wars Original Trilogy Is Coming Back To Movie Theaters, But Which Versions?

There may be no films ever created that are as loved as the original Star Wars trilogy. While those first films are approaching their 40th birthday, they have never gone out of popularity. However, with every generation that is introduced to the films, most are forced to only see them on a television screen. Many fans will have an opportunity this summer to experience the trilogy on the big screen once again, although, depending on your age, it may not be the version you remember.

The Alamo Drafthouse theater chain is sponsoring a roadshow of the original Star Wars trilogy, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi that will travel to several cities throughout the country this August. Unfortunately, for Star Wars purists, the versions screened will be the 1997 "Special Editions" and not the original theatrical releases.

In the 1990’s George Lucas felt that he’d never been able to actually make the Star Wars films the way he wanted to, due to limitations in special effects technology, so he went back and "cleaned up" many of the old dated effects, while also adding additional footage, like new creatures in the background of the Mos Eisley cantina, or new musical numbers in Jabba’s Palace. Yeah, we don’t know where that idea came from either.

Actually, if there’s a silver lining to this announcement, it’s the fact that Entertainment Weekly specifically calls out that the version will be the ones from 1997. As many fans know. George Lucas didn’t stop making changes after the release of the Special Editions. Pretty much every time the films were released in any format, new changes were made. The ghost of Anakin Skywalker at the end of Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi magically transformed into Hayden Christiansen following the release of the prequel trilogy. If the version that will be shown will only be the 1997 edition, then at least the changes will be limited to those and nobody will have to hear Darth Vader screaming as he throws the Emperor down the reactor shaft.

Changes notwithstanding, having the Special Edition Star Wars trilogy released in theaters again is great. With the return of the Star Wars franchise with Star Wars: The Force Awakens there are new Star Wars fans being created who have never seen it on the big screen. Seeing any edition is better than none. While the Special Edition had their issues, when they were released, it was a pretty big deal.

Tickets are set to go on sale on May the 4th. You can check out the list of cities the roadshow will hit here. More cities are expected to be added.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.