Domestic box office: $290,475,067 Worldwide box office: $538,375,067 "The Empire Strikes Back" is perhaps the most critically revered film in the "Star Wars" franchise, but Irvin Kershner, the movie's director, nearly didn't take the job. "I didn't want to follow a picture like 'Star Wars,' because what could I do that was different?" Kershner said. "But George said, 'I want to make a picture that is better than the first one. Because if the second one is not successful, that kills the whole series.' ... I really knocked myself out. I was able to go deeper into the characterization. I was doing the second act of a three-act play, or the second movement of a symphony. That's always the slower movement. I could not have a grand climax, I had to leave things ambiguous. My big climax came at the beginning of the film, with the battle in the snow, then I told the story of the people."