For other uses, see The Empire Strikes Back (disambiguation). Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 American space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner. The screenplay, based on a story by George Lucas, was written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. It was the second film released in the Star Wars saga, and the fifth in terms of internal chronology. The film is set three years after the destruction of the Death Star. The villainous Darth Vader and the elite forces of the Galactic Empire are in pursuit of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and the Rebel Alliance. While Vader chases Han and Leia across the galaxy, Luke studies the Force under Jedi Master Yoda. Vader uses Luke's friends to set a trap for him, leading to a fierce confrontation between the black-armored Sith and the young Jedi which ends with a shocking revelation. Following a difficult production, The Empire Strikes Back was released on May 21, 1980, and initially received mixed reviews from critics, although it has since grown in esteem, becoming one of the most popular chapters in the saga and one of the most highly rated films in history. It earned more than US$538 million worldwide over the original run and several re-releases, making it the highest grossing film of 1980. When adjusted for inflation, it is the 12th highest grossing film of all time.