This one is really hard to believe for me, but the entire Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition release happened 15 years ago in early 1997. More specifically, Return of the Jedi: Special Edition was released 15 years ago TODAY.
It was originally planned to be released on March 7, and many posters actually reflect that date, but Lucasfilm delayed the release a week due to the popularity of the first two re-releases.
Here’s the 1997 trailer for the release of the entire trilogy. I remember seeing it for the first time in front of Jingle All The Way.
For those that ventured out to see Return of the Jedi: Special Edition in theaters, it’s possible you received a free action figure. Select theaters passed out free “Theater Edition” Jedi Luke action figures.
I however didn’t get one. I was in my last year of college when I saw this in the theater and saw it at a small place in Auburn, AL that didn’t have them. I would have to acquire mine several years later.
I’m not a fan of all the changes Lucas made in this “special edition” of the trilogy, but honestly, I enjoy many of the upgraded effects and new scenes. Especially some of the subtle stuff that was added to Empire Strikes Back.
To date, the changes I hate the most are Greedo shooting first and the new Jabba scene in A New Hope and the new musical number in Return of the Jedi. And I’m baffled why they changed the Ewok celebration music. I actually enjoyed that (even though the new one is actually pretty good, too).