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The Empire Strikes Back (40th Anniversary reissue) - 2020

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  • The Empire Strikes Back (40th Anniversary reissue) - 2020

    I don't know what you could say about this movie that hasn't already been said multiple times. It was good to see young/funny Luke again, along with the rest of the cast of course, and it was especially good to hear the great music and the understandable dialogue after three weeks of the audio mess that was "Tenet."

    Gotta give Disney kudos for leaving the 20th Century Fox logo in place (I had a feeling they would excise it, but then they'd have to re-render the film or something which would cost bucks) and they also left the "800-PHONE-THX" phone number at the end, which was always a dopey place to put that because virtually nobody would ever see it. So now I wonder what unfortunate company has that number now and is getting the occasional random phone call about the picture being too dim or whatever.

    Back to the movie. This appears to be the 1997 'revised' version, unfortunately -- I was hoping maybe they'd unearthed the original, but no -- and the picture and sound mix are excellent. These flicks really are better on the big screen.

  • #2
    Was it the 1997 version or one of the intermediate versions, like the 2011 version with the "improved" Jabba The Hutt?

    The problem with bringing back the original trilogy is that George Lucas denies they still exist in any usable version. The only existing master negative has been updated to the 1997 version... Maybe he's keeping the separation masters somewhere in his personal vault, apparently, they still had them back in 1997. Without them, bringing back the original would mean they need to do a lot of expensive restoration work at best.

    And maybe interesting to know: How were the crowds?

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    • #3
      All I can tell you is the copyright date at the end said 1980 and 1997 so I'm not sure if it was the improved Jabba or not..... I'm not that big of a SW fan to know the difference.

      Crowds were pretty good over the weekend but we died on the weekdays. I think it did around the same businesses as the best of the previous oldies we've played. We still have tonight to go.

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      • #4
        If the copyright still lists 1997, then it will be "the original special edition"... It's somehow sad how many different versions of this movie exist nowadays. Maybe, if we're still around and the zombies didn't get us, in 2030, we'll finally get to see the original, unadulterated version?

        I'm a pretty big fan of the original trilogy, but it's not like I know all the differences. I noticed the update on the Blu-Ray release though. The biggest difference between the 2011 and all previous releases is that they seriously messed around with the color timings in this Blu-Ray release. Everything was tinted in a slight blue hue. This color grading had the biggest impact on how the laser swords looked: completely washed out, like a bunch of fluorescent tubes on their last legs... I haven't seen it yet, but apparently, the "4K" release largely brings back the original colors.

        The 1997 Jabba looks quite wonky and completely out of proportion to his later portrayals. It was an early attempt at an all-CGI character and it was used to restore a scene that is, unfortunately, completely unnecessary. Actually, the story is better without the scene, as it still keeps this Jabba the Hutt character as a powerful, mysterious figure. I guess that's why it ended up on the cutting floor back then. They updated the scene in 2004 for the DVD releases and apparently, again for the 2011 Blu-Ray release for a more "textured" but equally out-of-proportion Jabba.

        It's good to hear that those old movies still draw a crowd. And I agree: Those really were made to be seen on the big screen.

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        • #5
          Biggest way to tell if it was truly 1997 is if the Emperor hologram has changed. 1997 was the last time ESB had Clive Revill portraying the Emperor hologram. After that, it was Ian McDiarmid.

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          • #6
            Funny thing is this is the same DCP we have been playing since early August. Disney just slapped the ads with 40th anniversary and released it wider.

            Was it the 1997 version or one of the intermediate versions, like the 2011 version with the "improved" Jabba The Hutt?
            I do not remember Jabba in Empire Strikes Back. He was added into the original Star Wars.

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            • #7
              My fondest memory of the ORIGINAL release of ESB was the horrible prints, where the labs apparently rushed the final wash step....EVERY print I saw (and even to a lesser extent, the first video release) had the wet vertical bluish streaks on the entire frame (especially noticeable when Vader arrived on the Death Star in his shuttle.)

              I was actually at the first screening of ESB at the Syufy Orange Cinedome in a partial Darth Vader costume, and my picture was in the newspaper (Orange County Register) standing at the front of the line. I think I'll dig up and scan the article for laughs..

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Tony Bandiera Jr View Post
                My fondest memory of the ORIGINAL release of ESB was the horrible prints, where the labs apparently rushed the final wash step....EVERY print I saw (and even to a lesser extent, the first video release) had the wet vertical bluish streaks on the entire frame (especially noticeable when Vader arrived on the Death Star in his shuttle.)

                I was actually at the first screening of ESB at the Syufy Orange Cinedome in a partial Darth Vader costume, and my picture was in the newspaper (Orange County Register) standing at the front of the line. I think I'll dig up and scan the article for laughs..
                Darth Vader never went anywhere in a shuttle in ESB until the special editions, and there is no Death Star in ESB.

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                • #9
                  Darth Tony at ROTJ.jpeg
                  Originally posted by Geoff Jones View Post

                  Darth Vader never went anywhere in a shuttle in ESB until the special editions, and there is no Death Star in ESB.
                  And you are100% correct..that was from Return of The Jedi...talk about having a major Attack of The Senior Moments.... but the prints of ROTJ WERE bad.

                  Thankfully I did find the newspaper article of me in costume and I was WRONG AGAIN, that also was during RTOJ. I think I'll just shoot myself now..

                  The showing I saw of ESB was fine, with the exception noted below...

                  Another tidbit I found about that first showing of ESB....it was supposed to be in 70mm, but about two hours before the screening a delivery truck dropped off a print to a very panicked manager. I later found out that a mishap at the press screening the night before totally destroyed the 70mm print, and the delivery was a 35mm backup. That we saw a 35mm print was confirmed at the first reel change. A few others at that showing also seemed to notice it too.

                  Some years later while working for RCA Service, I got the full story of how the print got damaged. The "operator" dropped the film gate (Century JJ2) and bent the film guide fingers badly. They tried to bend them back but ended up breaking them off, leaving two nice knife edges pointing at the film. They ended up shaving the edges of the film so badly the print wouldn't project steady or even wind on the platter anymore. I was also told that Syufy lost the rights to ANY 70mm content for a long time, and only after providing a hefty cash deposit, they were finally allowed to run 70mm again.
                  Last edited by Tony Bandiera Jr; 10-04-2020, 09:43 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Did Syufy really get penalized with no 70mm prints for a period of time because of a reputation for damaging prints? If they did it must’ve been a brief punishment because Syufy at their dome complexes during the run of “Empire” booked 70s of other releases including “Divine Madness” and a “2001”/“Close Encounters” double bill. Moreover, my research would suggest Syufy during the 1980s booked more 70mm prints than any other circuit, often booking two and even three 70mm prints of same title for some of their complexes. (Ever wonder why their Vegas and Reno locales often had mid-run switches to 70mm? They were move-overs of the extra prints used during the initial weeks at their higher-grossing locales in San Jose, Sacramento and Orange County.). I’ve often wondered how Syufy managed to possess the muscle to pull off all of those 70mm bookings, especially with their penchant for using non-union operators.

                    Did theaters screening “Empire” receive 35mm backups/replacements? I’d be surprised if they did considering that release was a 70mm exclusive during its first month. It’s pretty well documented/reported that they chose an all-70mm launch (save for the possible exception of a pair of drive-ins) not just for the obvious presentation attributes but to reduce the chances of the prints being ripped off and bootlegged.

                    I can’t say for sure, but my hunch is in this instance you’re confusing it with “Jedi” because it was reported the entire 70mm print run (a record number at the time) could not be completed in time for each and every one of them to be delivered by opening day and so some 70mm venues commenced their “Jedi” run with a 35mm and switched to 70mm over the course of the first few days as the 70mm replacement print arrived fresh from lab. I suspect this may have been the case with the Cinedome’s second print of “Jedi.” (Like “Empire” and so many other big releases, Cinedome opened with two prints.)

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                    • #11
                      Yes they did get penalized, and it was a relatively short time in reality, (but the Syufy person I spoke with predictably said it was "a long time".) I am positive the incident was with Empire, as Jedi did not have any issues and I am sure it was a 70mm print of ESB they were supposed to be opening with. I tried to find the obscure Orange County paper that mentioned, in their review of ESB, that although the film was good and so was the sound, the print "seemed to be unusually covered in dust" for a first run of the film. (Guess what the dust was, lol.) This was ll too long ago and I don't have the time or resources to dig deeper into it.

                      The non union operators (like the popcorn girl who trashed the print) was always hit and miss as we all know. There were some good non union operatprs,just as there were some really horrid IATSE operators. (Luckily Syufy's local wasn't as bad as the L.A. one.) My time servicing Syufy's theatres had mainly good operators, with very few exceptions. (That was in the "Top Gun" era.) I fondly remember changing a center channel HF driver in the big dome during Top Gun while the film was playing. That was an adventure, but the applause when I got it working again was worth the ringing ears. (They loved to play films at the proper levels.)

                      And you are correct, that location opened with two 70mm prints of ESB just had the bad luck to be in the wrong dome for that opening.

                      I sent you a private message...

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                      • #12
                        I can confirm that at K-B, we did get 35mm backup prints for our 70mm runs into the mid-80s. Definitely Empire, Raiders and I'm pretty sure E.T (speaking of the K-B Cinema, in particular). I don't think we did on War Games.

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