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On May 19, the Force was strong with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as more than 600 Star Wars fans came to the Arclight Cinema in Los Angeles, California, for a special 30th anniversary screening of The Empire Strikes Back benefiting the hospital.
The sold-out show was the first of a year-long campaign called The Empire Gives Back marking the anniversary of a fan favorite among the six Star Wars films. Lucasfilm Ltd organized the event, which raised more than $40,000.
The special red carpet screening, presented by Junk Food Clothing, also featured a special Q&A with actor Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo in the first three Star Wars films. Joining Ford in attendance at the anniversary screening were fellow Star Wars cast members Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) and Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the recent Star Wars “prequels.” Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau and Christopher Nolan, director of The Dark Knight also attended the event.
In addition, St. Jude patients viewed the special screening and had a chance to meet with the actors. “Celebrating the anniversary and raising money for St. Jude—I’m happy to be a part of it,” said Ford.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the celebration of The Empire Strikes Back,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude. “The Star Wars phenomenon reaches around the world and transformed film-making history. At St. Jude we are revolutionizing the way childhood cancer is treated, and those advances are only possible because of the generous support of people and events such as this. Thank you, Lucasfilm, for supporting the kids of St. Jude.”
“Star Wars has received such an amazing show of love and support throughout the years, from fans all over the world,” said Mich Chau, president and chief operating officer of Lucasfilm Ltd. “This anniversary gives us a wonderful opportunity to give back to our fans, and to work with some truly worthy organizations in a combined effort to support those in need.”
Originally released May 21, 1980, The Empire Strikes Back has become one of the most popular chapters of the Star Wars saga, reacquainting audiences with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia and introducing new characters such as Jedi Master Yoda and the bounty hunter Boba Fett and thrilling movie goers with Darth Vader’s now-legendary climactic revelation.