History, Legacy & Showmanship

The Force Defeated: Remembering "The Empire Strikes Back" on its 35th Anniversary

May 21, 2015 - 5:12 pm   |   by
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THE ORIGINAL ENGAGEMENTS

Between May 17th and 20th, 1980, a series of charity premieres in various cities were held for The Empire Strikes Back. The first of these screenings, which doubled as the film’s world premiere, was held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Listed below are the theaters in the United States and Canada that opened Empire on May 21st, 1980. Unlike a nationwide, saturation launch commonplace today, Empire opened initially on only 127 screens in 125 theaters in 89 markets. All of these “first wave” bookings were shown in 70-millimeter and Six-Track Dolby Stereo (with the exception of a couple of drive-in bookings). These were the only theaters that showed the movie during its first month of release. The duration of the engagements, measured in weeks, has been included in parenthesis after each entry to illustrate the movie’s success.

Also on May 21st, Empire opened in London at the Odeon Leicester Square and was the only international booking to open on the same day as the United States and Canada. A day earlier, on May 20th, the film was given a Royal Premiere with members of the Royal Family in attendance.

During its fifth week, Empire’s release was expanded by about 700 bookings (mostly in 35mm), with additional bookings added weekly throughout the summer and into autumn. By the end of the movie’s lengthy run it had played more than 1,500 engagements (plus hundreds more internationally) and, not surprisingly, was 1980’s top-grossing motion picture. These subsequent-wave bookings have not been cited in the list below.

70mm-Dolby-1980

ALABAMA

No theaters in Alabama played Empire during Release Wave #1

ALASKA

No theaters in Alaska played Empire during Release Wave #1

ALBERTA

  • Calgary — Famous Players PALLISER SQUARE TWIN (20 weeks)
  • Edmonton — Famous Players PARAMOUNT (29)

ARIZONA

  • Phoenix — Plitt CINE CAPRI (30)

ARKANSAS

  • Little Rock — United Artists CINEMA 150 (20)

BRITISH COLUMBIA

  • Vancouver — Famous Players STANLEY (18)

CALIFORNIA

  • Corte Madera — Marin CINEMA (18)
  • Fountain Valley — Pacific FOUNTAIN VALLEY DRIVE-IN (17) <35mm>
  • Fresno — Festival Enterprises FESTIVAL 6 (38)
  • Los Angeles — General Cinema Corporation AVCO CENTER CINEMA I-II-III (22)
  • Los Angeles — United Artists EGYPTIAN I-II-III (30)
  • Newport Beach — Edwards NEWPORT TWIN (25)
  • Orange — Syufy CINEDOME 6 (#1: 30)
  • Orange — Syufy CINEDOME 6 (#2: 11)
  • Paramount — Pacific ROSECRANS 3 DRIVE-IN (#1: 9) <35mm>
  • Paramount — Pacific ROSECRANS 3 DRIVE-IN (#2: 4) <35mm>
  • Sacramento — Syufy CENTURY 6 (39)
  • San Diego — Pacific CINERAMA (30)
  • San Francisco — Plitt NORTHPOINT (28)
  • San Jose — Syufy CENTURY 22 TRIPLEX (43)

COLORADO

  • Denver — Commonwealth COOPER (30)

CONNECTICUT

  • East Hartford — Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS 8 (30)
  • Orange — Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS 5 (18)
  • Stamford — Trans-Lux RIDGEWAY (16)

DELAWARE

  • Claymont — SamEric 3 TRI-STATE MALL (30)

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

  • Washington — Kogod-Burka CINEMA (29)

FLORIDA

  • North Miami Beach — Wometco 163RD STREET (22)
  • South Miami — Wometco DADELAND TWIN (21)
  • Winter Park — Wometco PARK TWIN (23)

GEORGIA

  • Atlanta — Plitt PHIPPS PLAZA 1-2-3 (30)

HAWAII

  • Honolulu — Consolidated CINERAMA (30)

IDAHO

No theaters in Idaho played Empire during Release Wave #1

ILLINOIS

  • Belleville — Bloomer Amusement Company CINEMA (14)
  • Calumet City — Plitt RIVER OAKS 1-2-3-4 (19)
  • Champaign — Kerasotes VIRGINIA (20)
  • Chicago — General Cinema Corporation FORD CITY CINEMA I-II-III (16)
  • Chicago — Plitt ESQUIRE (18)
  • Lombard — General Cinema Corporation YORKTOWN CINEMA I-II-III-IV (18)
  • Moline — Dubinsky PARKWAY (26)
  • Niles — Fink GOLF MILL 1-2-3 (19)
  • Norridge — Marks & Rosenfield NORRIDGE 1-2-3-4 (16)
  • Orland Park — Plitt ORLAND SQUARE 1-2-3-4 (16)
  • Peoria — Plitt MADISON (16)
  • Schaumburg — Plitt WOODFIELD 1-2-3-4 (18)
  • Springfield — Kerasotes ESQUIRE 1-2-3-4 (18)

INDIANA

  • Fort Wayne — Mallers-Spirou HOLIDAY TWIN (20)
  • Indianapolis — Young & Wolf EASTWOOD (23)

IOWA

  • Des Moines — Dubinsky RIVER HILLS (30)
  • Dubuque — Dubuque Theatre Corporation CINEMA CENTER 4 (12)

KANSAS

  • Wichita — Dickinson MALL (22)

KENTUCKY

  • Erlanger — Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS 6 (36)
  • Lexington — Mid States NORTHPARK 6 (14)
  • Lexington — Mid States SOUTHPARK 6 (30)
  • Louisville — Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS 9 (37)

LOUISIANA

  • Metairie — General Cinema Corporation LAKESIDE CINEMA I-II-III-IV-V (20)

MAINE

No theaters in Maine played Empire during Release Wave #1

MANITOBA

No theaters in Manitoba played Empire during Release Wave #1

MARYLAND

  • Towson — Rappaport HILLENDALE TWIN (19)

MASSACHUSETTS

  • Boston — Sack CHARLES 1-2-3 (22)
  • Seekonk — Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS 6 (19)
  • West Springfield — Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS 8 (18)
  • Worcester — Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS 4 (17)

MICHIGAN

  • Bloomfield Hills — Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS 5 (17)
  • Burton — Plitt EASTLAND MALL (18)
  • Harper Woods — Suburban Detroit EASTLAND 1-2 (18)
  • Livonia — Suburban Detroit TERRACE 1-2 (30)
  • Southfield — Nicholas George AMERICANA COMPLEX 1-2-3-4 (28)
  • Southgate — Nicholas George SOUTHGATE TRIPLEX (29)
  • Sterling Heights — Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS 7 (30)

MINNESOTA

  • Bloomington — General Cinema Corporation SOUTHTOWN (28)
  • Brooklyn Center — Plitt BROOKDALE (30)
  • Roseville — General Cinema Corporation HAR-MAR CINEMA I-II-III (29)

MISSISSIPPI

No theaters in Mississippi played Empire during Release Wave #1

MISSOURI

  • Creve Coeur — Wehrenberg CREVE COEUR (30)
  • Kansas City — American Multi-Cinema MIDLAND / EMPIRE 7 (27)

MONTANA

No theaters in Montana played Empire during Release Wave #1

NEBRASKA

  • Omaha — Douglas CINEMA CENTER 4 (20)

NEVADA

No theaters in Nevada played Empire during Release Wave #1

NEW BRUNSWICK

No theaters in New Brunswick played Empire during Release Wave #1

NEW HAMPSHIRE

No theaters in New Hampshire played Empire during Release Wave #1

NEW JERSEY

  • Edison — General Cinema Corporation MENLO PARK CINEMA I & II (23)
  • Lawrenceville — SamEric TWIN LAWRENCEVILLE (20)
  • Moorestown — SamEric PLAZA MOORESTOWN (22)
  • Paramus — RKO Stanley-Warner ROUTE 4 QUAD (23)

NEW MEXICO

No theaters in New Mexico played Empire during Release Wave #1

NEW YORK

  • Cheektowaga — Holiday Theater Inc. HOLIDAY 6 (20)
  • Colonie — Cinema 5 COLONIE TWIN (19)
  • DeWitt — CinemaNational SHOPPINGTOWN TWIN (22)
  • Lawrence — RKO Stanley-Warner LAWRENCE TRIPLEX (20)
  • Levittown — Loews NASSAU QUAD (23)
  • New York — Cinema 5 MURRAY HILL (19)
  • New York — Loews ASTOR PLAZA (20)
  • New York — Loews ORPHEUM TWIN (18)
  • Pittsford — Loews PITTSFORD TRIPLEX (30)
  • Yonkers — General Cinema Corporation CENTRAL PLAZA CINEMA I & II (18)

NEWFOUNDLAND

No theaters in Newfoundland played Empire during Release Wave #1

NORTH CAROLINA

  • Charlotte — Plitt PARK TERRACE 1-2 (30)
  • Fayetteville — Consolidated BORDEAUX 1-2-3 (28)
  • Greensboro — Plitt TERRACE 1-2-3 (19)
  • Raleigh — Plitt CARDINAL 1-2 (28)
  • Winston-Salem — Plitt THRUWAY 1-2 (19)

NORTH DAKOTA

No theaters in North Dakota played Empire during Release Wave #1

NOVA SCOTIA

No theaters in Nova Scotia played Empire during Release Wave #1

OHIO

  • Columbus — Mid States CONTINENT 7 (30)
  • Dayton — Chakeres DAYTON MALL 1-2-3-4 (30)
  • Springdale — Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS 6 (36)
  • Toledo — Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS 4 (30)
  • Trotwood — Mid States SALEM MALL 4 (29)
  • Whitehall — Sugarman CINEMA EAST (20)

OKLAHOMA

No theaters in Oklahoma played Empire during Release Wave #1

ONTARIO

  • Hamilton — Famous Players TIVOLI (18)
  • London — Famous Players PARK (18)
  • Toronto — Famous Players UNIVERSITY (18)
  • Windsor — Famous Players CENTRE (18)

OREGON

  • Beaverton — Luxury Theatres WESTGATE TRIPLEX (37)
  • Eugene — Luxury Theatres CINEMA WORLD QUAD (33)

PENNSYLVANIA

  • Allentown — SamEric ALLENTOWN 3 (19)
  • Bensalem Township — American Multi-Cinema PREMIERE 2 (30)
  • King of Prussia — SamEric TWIN PLAZA (20)
  • McCandless — Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS NORTH 8 (18)
  • Philadelphia — SamEric SAMERIC (30)
  • Pittsburgh — Cinemette WARNER (16)
  • Robinson Township — Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS WEST 5 (30)
  • Wilkins Township — Redstone SHOWCASE CINEMAS EAST 5 (17)

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

No theaters in Prince Edward Island played Empire during Release Wave #1

QUEBEC

  • Montreal — Odeon PLACE DU CANADA (17)

RHODE ISLAND

No theaters in Rhode Island played Empire during Release Wave #1

SASKATCHEWAN

No theaters in Saskatchewan played Empire during Release Wave #1

SOUTH CAROLINA

No theaters in South Carolina played Empire during Release Wave #1

SOUTH DAKOTA

No theaters in South Dakota played Empire during Release Wave #1

TENNESSEE

  • Memphis — Southern Theatre Service PARK (23)
  • Nashville — Martin BELLE MEADE (12)

TEXAS

  • Austin — American Multi-Cinema AMERICANA (30)
  • Dallas — American Multi-Cinema PRESTONWOOD 5 (38)
  • Dallas — General Cinema Corporation NORTHPARK CINEMA I & II (23)
  • Fort Worth — Plitt RIDGLEA (30)
  • Houston — American Multi-Cinema WESTCHASE 5 (38)
  • Houston — Plitt ALABAMA (28)

UTAH

  • Riverdale — Tullis-Hansen CINEDOME 70 TWIN (30)
  • Salt Lake City — Plitt CENTRE (30)

VERMONT

No theaters in Vermont played Empire during Release Wave #1

VIRGINIA

  • Springfield — General Cinema Corporation SPRINGFIELD MALL CINEMA I-II-III-IV-V-VI (30)

WASHINGTON

  • Seattle — United Artists CINEMA 150 (61)
  • Tacoma — Sterling Recreation Organization TACOMA MALL TWIN (30)

WEST VIRGINIA

No theaters in West Virginia played Empire during Release Wave #1

WISCONSIN

  • Fox Point — Capitol BROWN PORT (18)
  • Wauwatosa — United Artists MAYFAIR (30)
  • West Allis — Marcus SOUTHTOWN TRIPLEX (30)

WYOMING

No theaters in Wyoming played Empire during Release Wave #1

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