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The Star Wars Trilogy

A Digital Star Wars Scrapbook.

18. July 2013 06:16
by jedi1

Star Wars Network TV Premiere on CBS 1984

18. July 2013 06:16 by jedi1 | 0 Comments

Star Wars had been released for Home Video rental in the US sometime in 1982. Most reports say it was for rental only as early as May 1982, but there is some evidence that it may have been later that summer:

Within the next few weeks, Twentieth Century Fox will announce that it's releasing the all-time box-office smash Star Wars on videocassette. It could be the hottest cassette ever and may spur other VCR sales. The Star Wars cassette will be specially designed and coded so that copying it will be extremely expensive, if not impossible, according to a Fox spokesman. And, if copies are made, tracing the source tape will be possible. Although the marketing details have yet to be worked out between Fox Video and George Lucas' Lucasfilm Ltd. studios, the cassette probably will be released only for rental and not for sale.

- Rolling Stone, June 10th, 1982.

 Regardless of the exact date, it was initially released only for rental officially, although some video libraries worked around this limitation by offering a "lifetime rental" for about $120. By September of 1982, however, this limitation was lifted and a retail version was available for about $80. This sounds like a lot by today's standards but at the time most video tapes were produced for video rental libraries, not individuals and that price would not have been considered overly expensive. Indeed, many fans happily paid to own their own copy of Star Wars.

In August 1982, the Original Star Wars was re-released in Theaters and by September 1982, Star Wars was made available on some of the few pay-per-view channels in existence in some parts of the US. Subscribers to The Movie Channel could watch Star Wars in Stereo in February 1983 and that winter it was also available on HBO.

Star Wars had made it's network television premiere in the UK in October 1982, but it wasn't until February 26th 1984 that CBS finally aired Star Wars for the first time on network television in the US. Unfortunately for CBS (and kids whose parents only had one TV), ABC was airing the first part of its racy mini-series "Lace" at the same time and would easily win the time slots best ratings, so between that and all the other ways to watch Star Wars by that point, CBS did not expect (or receive) the kind of ratings it might have hoped for had it been able to air the movie sooner.

A teaser for Star Wars on CBS:

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However, as a special bonus feature for those who did tune in, the film was book-ended with a special featurette. The first part ran before the movie, and is about 6 minutes long. Hosted by Mark Hamill, it discusses the phenomenon of Star Wars:

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Here are a few screen caps from the 1984 network TV premiere of Star Wars:

Screen Shots from the movie on CBS 1984

After the movie (but before the End credits), Mark Hamill is back to take us behind the scenes of the Star Wars trilogy:

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NBC would premiere The Empire Strikes Back on Sunday, November 22nd 1987 and Return of the Jedi on Sunday, March 19th 1989.

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