There was a time, long ago, and in a galaxy far, far away, when Return of the Jedi was actually titled Revenge of the Jedi…
Ah yes, Revenge of the Jedi, a title that does not fit a Jedi at all. And, although it sounds infinitely more badass that Return of the Jedi, it would have gone against every bit of storytelling structure that George Lucas built into his Star Wars universe, to have a Jedi seek revenge.
There are several posters and even some rare toys that are packaged in Revenge of the Jedi packaging, and there is even a trailer. But now, thanks to Oscars.org, we now have access to a rare trailer before it’s title was changed. Check it out:
As you can see, this trailer is promoting Revenge of the Jedi to be released during Christmas of 1983. Return of the Jedi opened in theaters on May 25, 1983.
There’s also the fact that the trailer shows Han Solo, which if you didn’t know any better back then — and after watching Han take a carbonite bath in Empire Strikes Back — you’d probably be upset, as this might be a fairly large spoiler. I honestly don’t remember caring about spoilers in the 80’s, but then again, I was in junior-high and didn’t really care.
Here’s what Oscars.org had to say about their find:
"“It is unclear how long the “Christmas 1983” Revenge trailer was allowed to play in front of the British double-bill in 1982, but it was called out specifically on a snipe poster included in a rarely seen set of Marler Haley lobby posters sent out to larger theaters hosting the double-bill. Nevertheless, American audiences would not get a glimpse of the third film until Star Wars was re-released in the U.S. in August 1982, meaning that this may be the earliest Revenge trailer distributed – and fans from across the pond got the first peek!”"
Well then, I guess folks in the U.K. have something else to hold over folks in the U.S…I mean, they already have Pinewood Studios, why not a first peek at Revenge of the Jedi which would later become Return of the Jedi? Imagine if the internet was around back then. Imagine the sheer magnitude of the meltdown on Reddit!