We’ll spare you the pushing-up-our-glasses moment of this story by just stating it outright: Return Of The Jedi was originally entitled Revenge Of The Jedi, way back when the idea of a sullen Sith lord getting his own prequel series was just a glint in the eye of George Lucas’ accountant. While there’s merchandise you can find bearing that early moniker (you’ll have to be pretty comfortable losing a year’s rent money acquiring any), American audiences never saw that title on the big screen. But now, the Academy Film Archive has uncovered an early teaser trailer, heretofore seen only across the pond. The organization explains on its YouTube page:
The Academy Film Archive holds several trailers from the United States with the initial Revenge title, most of which announcing a May 25th 1983 release date which coincided with the anniversary of the original Star Wars stateside release in 1977. However, this peculiar and very brief Revenge of the Jedi teaser trailer originated from a cinema in the United Kingdom, where the film was originally being considered for a Christmas 1983 release. This teaser was apparently shown with the U.K.’s May 1982 double feature re-release of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. American audiences would not get a glimpse of the third film until Star Wars was re-released in the U.S. in August 1982, meaning that this may be the earliest Revenge trailer distributed—and fans from across the pond got the first peek!
The trailer is nothing if not a testament to how excited audiences used to get just seeing a few still images from a yet-to-be-released film. What a strange, outdated concept to think about in our technologically advanced present.