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Was the original release of Empire Strikes Back called Episode V in 1980? Or was this added in a later re-release?

Did the original opening crawl actually start out with

Star Wars
Episode V
The Empire Strikes Back

or just

Star Wars
The Empire Strikes Back

or maybe even

Star Wars
Episode II
The Empire Strikes Back

?

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3  
Doe it mean you are old when you remember it from the times all of it was new? –  PlasmaHH Apr 14 at 9:57

2 Answers 2

up vote 25 down vote accepted

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was the only live-action feature length Star Wars film to ever be released without an episode number or subtitle.

Per the Wikipedia entry for Star Wars (Film)

The film was originally released as Star Wars, without "Episode IV" or the subtitle A New Hope. The 1980 sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, was numbered "Episode V" in the opening crawl. When the original film was re-released on April 10, 1981, Episode IV: A New Hope was added above the original opening crawl. In early interviews, it was suggested the series might comprise nine or twelve films. The film was re-released theatrically in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, and with additional scenes and enhanced special effects in 1997.

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and I've little doubt that the only reason the "Episode IV" wasn't in the first release was because they weren't at all sure about the public reception, probably had no funding yet for the sequels (let alone the prequels). –  jwenting Apr 14 at 7:27
    
@jwenting: also I wonder if the specific number IV might not have been considered essential by then, maybe Lucas wasn't quite ready to commit to his back-story, let alone suggest he'd make the movies of it ;-) He wanted to capture the feel of a certain kind of action drama TV show, so the most important thing was that the first movie wasn't the start of the saga, rather than that there are exactly 3 prequels. I often think that the opening scenes were conceived as the resolution of a hypothetical previous cliff-hanger, although I have no quote from Lucas to that effect. –  Steve Jessop Apr 14 at 8:29
    
@SteveJessop I think that was certainly on his mind when coming up with the original numbering. Of course it did leave him with the option to inject further stories both after and before the events of the trilogy, but whether that was a nice side effect or the original intent I don't know. Asimov in essence did similar when writing his timeline of his Foundation universe, deliberately leaving gaps in the histiography so he could inject novels in those gaps if he wanted to (he of course died before he could fill those gaps). –  jwenting Apr 14 at 8:37
    
@SteveJessop I'll try to find a better source, but the IMDB faq matches what I've read: When the film was originally released in 1977, it was simply referred to as Star Wars, though supposedly, George Lucas had intended to put Episode IV: A New Hope in the opening crawl, but 20th Century Fox didn't want Lucas to do so because they thought it would confuse audiences, since there were never any other episodes released before it. After the commercial success of the original Star Wars, Lucas was able to continue with the multi-film epic he originally envisioned. –  phantom42 Apr 14 at 10:50
    
Star Wars did not become Episode IV until the second draft of Episode V. I'm actually kinda surprised there are Star Wars fans who don't know this. Vader did not become Luke's father until that draft, either. –  trlkly Aug 28 at 22:46

It was released as Episode V although Lucas toyed with it being Episode II in the beginning.

It is not quite the grand vision some would make out hence why the prequels contradict so much.

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This is certainly brief, but it's substantially correct. So why the downvotes? MacKrazy, welcome to the site. –  neilfein Aug 29 at 19:16

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