By Tara Mae
The force is strong with Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre (CAC), which for the first time in its history will screen George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy for a limited week-long engagement.
From Aug. 26 to Thursday, Sept. 1, the CAC will screen A New Hope (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Return of the Jedi (1983) in chronological order with successive screenings taking place on Friday and Saturday, for fans who want to binge watch the entire trilogy. It is a rare opportunity to watch the movies, each a mega blockbuster in its own right, on the big screen. They are rarely rereleased in theaters, much less shown in sequence, not due to lack of interest but rather lack of opportunity.
“The original trilogy is rarely presented on the big screen, and for many years it was unavailable to theaters. It was only recently that LucasFilm has started to allow screenings of the original trilogy,” said Nate Close, Director of Marketing and Communications at the CAC.
A New Hope launched director George Lucas and actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford into the stratosphere of popular culture. The two sequels, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, chronicled the acute losses and buoying victories in the ongoing battle between good and evil as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and their compatriots fought Darth Vader and the imperial regime.
The Cinema Arts Centre is screening the trilogy as part of an ongoing effort to reengage audiences and entice them back into the theater. For while Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and company had Darth Vader to battle and ultimately defeat, movie theaters, film centers, and other art institutions are contending with the effects of an ongoing pandemic and other hurdles.
“The movie theater industry is still in the process of bouncing back from the Covid era, so we thought this was a good time to give fans something that would really excite them and motivate them to come out and see a movie,” Close said. “We hope that people will take advantage of the rare opportunity to see some of their favorite films on the big screen.”
The trilogy spawned a number of prequels, graphic novels, books, television shows, and an entire alternative universe populated by heroic and villainous archetypes, emotive AI, and adorably ferocious creatures.
“The original Star Wars trilogy is timeless. Nearly everything about the films, from the characters, the music, and the world-building makes them some of the most memorable and entertaining movies ever made,” Close added. ”It’s hard to find another piece of fantasy media that has had such a tremendous impact on our culture. And that all started with the release of George Lucas’s original trilogy.”
The Star Wars Trilogy screening is just the beginning of an upcoming season that incorporates crowd favorites and comfort watches selected in the spirit of encouraging audiences to return to the theater. A screening of The Godfather on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. in honor of the 50th anniversary of its release, is the first in a series of Tuesday film screenings that celebrate the anniversaries of some Hollywood classics including To Kill a Mockingbird on Sept. 20 for its 60th anniversary; Lawrence of Arabia on Oct. 5 for its 60th anniversary; and Singin’ in the Rain on Nov. 20 for its 70th anniversary. And in the spirit of the holidays, the CAC will screen White Christmas on Dec. 13.
Since its reopening the Cinema Arts Centre has organized and presented a number of dynamic events geared towards welcoming diverse audiences, including comedy shows, book signings, a 12-hour horror movie marathon, the Maritime Film Festival, its Anything but Silent series that combines silent films with live accompaniment by organist Ben Model, documentary screenings, the Cult Cafe series, Cinema for Kids, Sunday Schmooze series, and much more. Check out their website at www.cinemaartcentre.org for a full schedule and ticket prices.
The Cinema Arts Centre is located at 423 Park Ave. in Huntington. For more information, call 631-423-7610.