Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back tops the US box-office for the first time in 23 years

(Image credit: LucasFilm/Disney)

Had the coronavirus pandemic not have swept the world, Ghostbusters: Afterlife would probably have just taken the top spot on the US box-office from Top Gun: Maverick, while Disney's Jungle Cruise would be waiting around the corner to sail to that same spot. Yet, things did not pan out that way, and the majority of major movies have been delayed until next year.

That doesn't mean every cinema is closed. Drive-in theatres are becoming a go-to attraction in the US, with re-runs of beloved movies being the main draw. As a result, the 40th-anniversary re-release of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (opens in new tab) has propelled the sequel to the number one spot at the US box-office, beating Black Panther (opens in new tab) and Inside Out (opens in new tab) at numbers two and three, respectively.

Deadline (opens in new tab) reports that Empire Strikes Back made an estimated $175,000 across 483 locations on Friday, with its final weekend takings set to be between $400,000 and $500,000. That brings the movie's total lifetime gross in the US to $290.4 million.

This isn't the first time Irvin Kershner's movie has topped the box-office following its original 1980 release. The George Lucas-tweaked reissue released in February 1997 also saw Empire reach number one – however, that weekend it grossed a huge $21.97 million.

With the coronavirus still sweeping the US and a record number of new cases facing the country this weekend gone, it's no surprise that the majority of Empire's revenue came from drive-ins. That statistic comes despite the fact outdoor cinemas only make up a third of all cinemas – 1,000 – that are currently open in the States. Find a full list of all the movies delayed by coronavirus here.

Jack Shepherd
Senior Entertainment Editor

I'm the Senior Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, bringing you all the latest movie and TV news, reviews, and features. Plus I look after the Total Film and SFX sections and socials media channels. I used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film