The Star Wars saga is set to be shown theatrically in its entirety for the first time in China, ahead of the worldwide premiere of the newest installment, The Force Awakens.
Both the original Star Wars trilogy and the prequel films will be shown at the upcoming 18th edition of the Shanghai International Film Festival, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The festival runs from June 13-21, and according to organizers and Walt Disney Pictures, it will host the first theatrical screenings of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in China.
The first film in the series, Star Wars, was released on May 25, 1977. pic.twitter.com/iOmzj1Risf
— Historical Pictures (@HistoryTime_) May 25, 2015
The screenings come as a collaboration between Disney and the film festival’s organizers, and are likely intended to build excitement for the newest Star Wars film ahead of its release, as the Daily Mail reports. While the original trilogy has long been available in China through home video and DVDs, the first three Star Wars films have never been released in theaters in the country.
38 years ago today, a “doomed to fail” sci-fi movie called Star Wars blasted its way into theaters – and into legend. pic.twitter.com/TrnY5gWoOC
— Wookieepedia (@WookOfficial) May 25, 2015
Organizers of the festival referred to Star Wars as “the greatest sci-fi masterpiece in film history” in announcing the screenings, a sentiment shared by legions of fans the world over. The newest installment in the franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is set to be released on December 18 in the United States and is expected to be a massive worldwide hit. The film will likely be a major box office draw in China as well, which represents one of the world’s largest film markets.
— Star Wars (@starwars) May 25, 2015
The Force Awakens is set to bring back several characters from the original Star Wars trilogy, including Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker. Though details of the film have been kept closely under guard since it was announced, a raft of rumors and purported production art have appeared online, as the Inquisitr previously reported. Earlier this year, J.J. Abrams, the director of The Force Awakens, piqued fans’ curiosity when he revealed that some of the online rumors are indeed true.
The Shanghai International Film Festival is also known for hosting the Golden Goblet award ceremony, as well as the Jackie Chan Action Movie Week and the Asian New Talent Award. Though this year’s festival will finally give Chinese audiences a chance to see all six of the Star Wars films theatrically, the exact dates of the screenings have not yet been announced.
[Photo by Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images]