Just when we thought that we had run out of Star Wars trivia, here comes a new disturbance in the Force. The Academy Film Archive has dug deep into its extensive vault and unearthed a rare, 35-second teaser trailer for Return of the Jedi. Wait, did we say Return? We actually meant Revenge of the Jedi, the original title for the third and, until recently, final chapter in George Lucas’ Star Wars saga. As galactic legend has it, Lucas eventually opted for “Return” over “Revenge” after deciding that vengeance wasn’t a very becoming trait for a Jedi.
This new teaser — not-so-coincidentally released on the 39th anniversary of A New Hope’s famous May 25, 1977, release date and the 33rd anniversary of Jedi’s May 25, 1983, debut — pre-dates a previously released trailer that still features the film’s original title.
As you’ll notice, this alternate trailer features actual footage from Jedi, whereas the one released from the Archive is made up entirely of still images. Additionally, the shorter teaser promises a “Christmas of 1983” release date, rather than the film’s Memorial Day weekend launch. According to a post on the Academy website, this 35-second clip only graced cinema screens in the United Kingdom as part of a Star Wars/The Empire Strikes Back double bill that played in British cinemas in May 1982. At that point, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox had been eyeing a Christmas release date for U.K. territories to take advantage of the always-lucrative holiday merchandising and moviegoing season, but eventually decided to stick with the summer release pattern. (The movie opened in England on June 2, 1983, one week after its American debut.)
The Academy’s post also mentions that this short teaser trailer was prominently featured in advertisements for the New Hope/Empire double bill, informing fans that they’d be able to “see the trailer for the 3rd Part of the saga.” Not mentioned, of course, is the fact that this trailer consists entirely of promotional stills set to music. On the other hand, British Star Wars fans could boast to catching a glimpse of Revenge of the Jedi before their American counterparts; the first teasers didn’t start playing in America until August 1982. Buried in the story is the fact that the Academy Film Archive apparently “holds several trailers from the United States with the initial Revenge title,” which suggests that there may still be some Star Wars treasures we haven’t seen before.
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