'Empire Strikes Back' 4K Re-Release In U.K. Theaters Scrapped By Disney

Disney is rolling back plans to release a 4K edition of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in U.K. theaters. The company announced three weeks ago that it would re-release the remastered 4K edition of the acclaimed Star Wars film to help boost attendance at U.K. theaters. But amid delays of major releases and theaters pushing back their reopening plans, Disney has scrapped those plans.

Variety reports that Disney has scrapped plans to release a 4K remaster of The Empire Strikes Back in U.K. cinemas, in what would have been the first-ever time a Star Wars film from the original trilogy would be screened in theaters in 4K.

Disney announced in late June that the 4K edition of the film would be part of the U.K. cinemas reopening slate as part of the government's economic recovery plan. But the House of Mouse is rolling back those plans after talks reportedly broke down with exhibitors in the last few weeks, according to Variety. The outlet reports that European cinema giant Vue was initially on board to show the 4K film across its U.K. theaters, but said earlier this week that plans had changed. However, U.K. theaters will still be screening The Empire Strikes Back as part of their reopening slate — just the standard 2K version of the 1980 film.

To date, the 4K edition of The Empire Strikes Back, which was the second title in the original trilogy and directed by Irvin Kershner, has only ever been available on the streaming platform Disney+ and on Blu-ray, where it was released in late March as part of a 4K release of all nine Skywalker Saga films, including Star Wars: The Phantom MenaceStar Wars: Attack of the ClonesStar Wars: Revenge of the SithStar Wars: A New HopeStar Wars: The Empire Strikes BackStar Wars: Return of the JediStar Wars: The Force Awakens, The Rise of Skywalker as well as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Disney's change of heart comes amid a string of delays in both studio releases and theater reopenings as coronavirus (COVID-19) cases spike in the U.S. Last week, Disney was forced to push Mulan from its July 24 release date to August 1, to avoid being the first major tentpole back in theaters after Warner Bros. delayed the highly anticipated Christopher Nolan thriller Tenet from July 31 to August 12. AMC Theatres, Regal, and Cinemark all pushed back their planned phased reopenings by a few weeks as well.

In the U.K., major exhibitors Vue and Cineworld have also pushed back their reopening dates from July 10 to July 31, when most of the major new releases would be coming out.