Did you know the original third installment of Star Wars was called Revenge of the Jedi before its title was changed to Return of the Jedi? Of course you did, you fanatic.
The Academy Film Archive has uploaded to YouTube what is possibly the first teaser of the film, bearing the title Revenge of the Jedi and advertising a Christmas 1983 release. The clip comes from a theater in the U.K., and was never shown in the U.S., according to a post by the Academy. It was played before the re-release double feature of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back in May of 1982. So, why was the release teased as Christmas 1983 when we obviously all know it hit theaters in May 1983? It was common back in ye old 1980s for props and costumes from movie sets to be displayed in department store windows to promote the given movie. It was determined that the U.S. would be done passing around Revenge of the Jedi relics by Christmas, meaning that the U.K. could have them for displays in stores like Selfridges or Harrods. It was also thought that releasing that the film in December would encourage Holiday-related Star Wars merchandise purchases and generally brighten moviegoing spirits in the midst of winter. Ultimately, those reasons didn’t stand up the fact that a new freaking Star Wars movie is here, people! The film was released on June 2 in the U.K., just barely behind the May 25 release in the U.S.
The 32-second teaser may be a little disappointing to our eyes that have now witnessed seven Star Wars films. The first 20 seconds are traditional Star Wars zooming title cards and the rest of the video consists of awkwardly angled stills from the set, but imagine being in the pre-internet era, before “leaks” were a common occurrence and the only thing you knew about the third Star Wars was that it was called Revenge of the Jedi. That little teaser was surely enough to warrant some shrieking.
Of course, George Lucas finally came to the decision to change the title to Return of the Jedi, feeling that “revenge” didn’t rightly capture the noble spirit of the Jedi. Memorabilia containing the original Revenge of the Jedi is valuable and sought-after by fans today. Watch the unearthed teaser above and experience the grainy excitement for yourself.