"The Great Escape" made its world debut at London's Odeon Leicester Square theater on June 20, 1963. It then went to a nationwide U.S. release in July of the same year.
"The Great Escape" was produced in the United States, but premiered in the United Kingdom, had a large British cast, and detailed true events led by British prisoners of war during WWII. During the film's debut at the Odeon Leicester Square theater in London, American director John Sturges received a civilian honor from the Royal Air Force.
After its June release in the United Kingdom, the film was distributed in the United States by United Artists, starting July 4, 1963.