'Star Wars: Return of the Jedi' returns to theaters ahead of its 40th anniversary

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 40th Anniversary
A "Return of the Jedi" 40th Anniversary poster. (Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

For sci-fi fans of a certain age, seeing the third and final entry in the original "Star Wars" trilogy back in May of 1983 was a generational rite of passage.

Three years earlier, director Irvin Kershner left us dangling precariously atop a narrative cliff when the bomb was dropped that Darth Vader might be Luke Skywalker's true father in 1980's "The Empire Strikes Back." Nooo!!  

But alas, it was ultimately revealed to be true in "Return of the Jedi"  —  and then Yoda passed away, the Rebel Alliance obliterated the second Death Star, Vader and the Emperor died, Luke and Leia were now siblings, the Ewoks sang that terrible "Yub Nub" song and all was right with the galaxy far, far away.

As "Star Wars" Day appears just over the horizon this May 4, 2023, "Return of the Jedi" will return to theaters starting Friday (April 28) in preparation for the film's 40th anniversary coming on May 25, 2023. A new generation will be able to experience the iconic film's old-school charm, and older hardcore fans can relive those classic "Star Wars" moments in theaters once again since its tinkered-with Special Edition presentations back in 1997.

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Artist Matt Ferguson's stunning "Return of the Jedi" 40th Anniversary poster. (Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

"Return of the Jedi" strikes back on the silver screen with a triumphant limited engagement in select theaters in the US, UK, and other territories. News first broke of this big birthday party earlier this month at Star Wars Celebration Europe, and now the nostalgic engagement has finally arrived.

To accompany the marketing campaign for these "Return of the Jedi" screenings, a brilliant new poster has been composed by British illustrator Matt Ferguson, who also created the poster for "The Empire Strikes Back’s" 40th anniversary in 2020.

"I'm so happy and grateful to get to work on these movies again, even more so to be given the freedom to continue what I started with Empire," Ferguson told StarWars.com. "For that poster, a cold mechanical vibe completely takes over the whole composition. But "Return of the Jedi" is very much the triumph of Luke and the Rebels, so I wanted to have more of the warmer colors coming back into the art, hence pivoting to green with red accents.

"The artwork should tell a story, so for me it only made sense to give over the composition to those two characters. Will Luke be turned? Is Vader going to overcome the darkness? It's all about the pull between good and evil." 

"Star Wars: Return of the Jedi" will return to theaters for a 40th anniversary rerelease running from April 28 – May 4 in the U.S., and April 28 – May 1 in the U.K.

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Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.