In 1983, a massive marketing campaign was launched for the third episode of the Star Wars trilogy. The Return of the Jedi poster was distributed around the world as anticipation for the movie grew. Some of the most recognizable movie posters ever created and helped launch the Star Wars trilogy to box office records.
Revenge of the Jedi
George Lucas, the Star Wars series creator, originally named the third episode, “Revenge of the Jedi.” Just months before the movie was to open worldwide, Lucas changed the name, deciding that it was not appropriate. Lucas concluded that a Jedi has a peaceful nature and does not seek revenge, so the title was changed to “Return of the Jedi.”
By the time the title was changed, over 6,000 movie posters were created featuring the “Revenge” phrasing. Many were destroyed and not distributed, but some were sold to Star Wars fan club members for $9.50 each, creating some of the most desirable and valuable collector’s items from the trilogy.
Sales of the original Revenge of the Jedi posters are rare and difficult to find in good condition. This Revenge of the Jedi original movie poster listing on eBay is just one of maybe a dozen printer’s proofs that were pulled from the Gore Graphics press.
The first batch of posters sent to movie theaters worldwide was printed without a release date on the bottom. The second group of “Revenge” titled posters included the release date on the bottom of the poster reading, “Coming May 25, 1983 to your galaxy.”
These very limited posters were printed as test posters before the large quantity printing would occur. The color bar chart remains on the side of the poster, indicating it was a test printing. This particular poster shown below was rolled rather than folded, keeping it in excellent condition by preventing fold lines.
Star Wars Return of the Jedi Original Movie Poster
George Lucas changed the title to “Return of the Jedi” just months before the movie would be released worldwide. The film made $23 million from over one thousand theaters on its opening weekend and took in $45 million during the first week.
Return of the Jedi Poster, Style A
Paykos Phior designed the ‘Style A’ Return of the Jedi movie poster with art by Tim Reamer. Two hands gripping a blue lightsaber are featured in this simple but memorable version.
The poster was supposedly going to be the replacement for the ‘Revenge’ poster, which was pulled when the movie title changed, but this poster wasn’t ready in time to be the advance poster. Instead, it was used as the first poster of the regular worldwide marketing campaign.
There are two versions of this poster, a domestic version for the United States and an international version. It was printed in various sizes; originals can be purchased on eBay for a few hundred dollars, depending on the condition.
Return of the Jedi Poster, Style B
Possibly the most famous Return of the Jedi movie poster is the “Style B” edition, featuring artwork by Kazuhiko Sano. Art direction and design by Christopher Werner.
The Style B poster can be found in three different versions. One with ‘Return of the Jedi Style B One Sheet’ printed in the lower right corner of the poster. A second version was created with the addition of the NSS number ‘830013’. And a third version of the Style B poster is the international poster without a white border.
Authentic and Original Posters
There are multiple ways to identify fake and reproduced Return of the Jedi movie posters claiming to be original.
The size should be the first indicator of a fake. Expert movie poster inspectors know the exact sizes the original posters were printed, so the poster’s dimensions should first be verified.
Certain logos in the corners of the Return of the Jedi posters can become cloudy when re-printed. Also, fold lines might appear in the re-printing, which would be a clear indication that someone has copied an original. Finally, the weight of the paper is an important distinction when inspecting movie posters.