'Empire Strikes Back' tops the UK box office 40 years after release

Ben Arnold
·2-min read
The Empire Strikes Back (Credit: Lucasfilm/Fox)
The Empire Strikes Back (Lucasfilm/Fox)

Strange times call for unusual movies suddenly topping the UK box office, decades after they were first released.

Thanks to a vastly depleted number of screens currently open in the UK and Ireland, the 40th anniversary re-release of The Empire Strikes Back has hit the number one spot, according to figures from Screen Daily.

It grossed just over £50,000 from 10-12 July, playing in 94 locations, with more screens slowly beginning to open up.

The movie also topped the US box office, with a better-than-expected three-day gross of $611,000, over the 1,500 cinemas which are currently trading.

Read more: Empire Strikes Back at 40: A troubled shoot that nearly broke Lucas

Coming in second in the UK box office is Disney's Onward, making £35,540 over the same period, after five weeks on release, followed by Trolls World Tour (£20,911), new release Black Water: Abyss (£19,524) and the 30th anniversary re-release of Dirty Dancing, with £15,134.

In the US, Empire Strikes Back is also at the top spot, but lags just behind pandemic hit Ghostbusters, which made an additional $656,000 last weekend, per Deadline.

The majority of cinemas in the UK remain closed, though the government lifted restrictions on them from 4 July.

A sign to thank the NHS is displayed as trees are reflected on the Leicester Square Odeon cinema in London, Monday, May 4, 2020, as the UK enters a seventh week of lockdown to help stop the spread of coronavirus. The highly contagious COVID-19 coronavirus has impacted on nations around the globe, many imposing self isolation and exercising social distancing when people move from their homes. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Leicester Square Odeon cinema in London (AP)

Odeon is staggering its openings, with 10 sites currently open, and a further 88 sites set to open this weekend.

The Vue and Cineworld chains are set to reopen at the end of the month, with various social distancing measures in place.

Read more: Odeon announced phased re-opening

“We are confident we can look after our staff and our customers with enhanced protocols. By the time we reopen in the UK, our methods will have been responsibly and robustly deployed in the real world,” said Vue boss Tim Richards.

“We have learned how to do this from our operations in Taiwan where we never closed and have successfully operated through pandemics such as Sars in the past; and from our sites in Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Poland and Lithuania, where we have recently and successfully reopened to the public.”