Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 American epic space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner and produced by Gary Kurtz for Lucasfilm Ltd.. Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay, with George Lucas writing the film's story and serving as executive producer. It is the sequel to the 1977 movie Star Wars: A New Hope and the second installment in the original Star Wars Trilogy. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Alec Guinness, Kenny Baker and Peter Mayhew all reprise their roles of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, C-3PO, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, R2-D2 and Chewbacca from A New Hope. There are joined by Billy Dee Williams and Frank Oz who play new characters Lando Calrissian and Yoda.
The film is set three years after Star Wars. The Galactic Empire, under the leadership of the villainous Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, is in pursuit of Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Rebel Alliance. While Vader chases a small band of Luke's friends across the galaxy, Luke studies the Force under Jedi Master Yoda. When Vader captures Luke's friends, Luke must decide whether to complete his training and become a full Jedi Knight or to confront Vader and save them.
Following a difficult production, The Empire Strikes Back was released on May 21, 1980. It received mixed reviews from critics initially but has since grown in esteem, becoming the most critically acclaimed chapter in the Star Wars saga; it is now widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. The film ranks #3 on Empire's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time. It became the highest-grossing film of 1980 and, to date, has earned more than $538 million worldwide from its original run and several re-releases. When adjusted for inflation, it is the second-highest-grossing sequel of all time and the 13th-highest-grossing film in North America. The film was followed by a sequel, titled Return of the Jedi, which was released in 1983.
In 2010, the film was selected for preservation in the United States' National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant."