The film was released on December 4, 1994 in Japan as part of the Winter '94 Toei Anime Fair.
An extraterrestrial entity named Princess Snow Kaguya (プリンセス・スノー・カグヤ, Purinsesu Sunō Kaguya) arrives on Earth in an attempt to freeze it, but a fragment of her comet has been lost and she is unable to proceed without it. She has her henchwomen, the Snow Dancers, search for the missing fragment. In Tokyo, a young astronomer named Kakeru Ōzora (宇宙 翔, Ōzora Kakeru) finds the fragment and keeps it in his observatory to study it further.
Meanwhile, the Sailor Guardians are enjoying a day in the Juban Shopping District. Luna falls ill and decides to go back to Usagi's house. Along the way, she collapses while crossing the road, and is almost hit by a car, but is rescued and nursed to health by Kakeru. Luna then develops strong romantic feelings for him, even kissing him on the cheek in his sleep, leaving Artemis devastated. Luna herself ends up with unrequited love because it is revealed that Kakeru himself has a girlfriend, an astronaut named Himeko Nayotake (名夜竹 姫子, Nayotake Himeko), and more importantly, because Luna is a cat. The two are devastated because Himeko is oblivious to Kakeru's belief of Princess Kaguya's existence. Later, after finding herself unable to reconcile her differences with Kakeru, Himeko leaves on a space mission.
The fragment of the comet attaches itself to his life force, and begins slowly stealing his life-force energy, causing him to become very ill. Kaguya later steals the shard, but because it is linked to his life-force, he is brought even closer to death when Kaguya throws the shard into the ocean and creates an enormous ice crystal that will continue to draw away Kakeru's life force energy completely. She and her Snow Dancers then begin freezing the entire Earth. The Sailor Guardians attempt to stop her, but every time they kill the Snow Dancers, Kaguya keeps reviving them using the crystal. Just before Kaguya could kill the soldiers, Usagi tries to stop her and uses the Holy Grail to transform into Super Sailor Moon. She uses her Rainbow Moon Heartache attack but is easily overpowered by Kaguya's strength and power. Determined to protect the Earth, Usagi prepares to activate the Legendary Silver Crystal's immense energy and power. The eight Sailor Guardians, along with Chibiusa, combine their powers and abilities all at once to activate the Legendary Silver Crystal, and it hits Kaguya head-on. The Silver Crystal's power also destroys Kaguya's Snow Dancers, the ice crystal in the ocean, as well as her comet.
With peace once again returned to the Earth, Usagi wishes for Luna to become Princess Kaguya. Concerned about Himeko's safety, Kakeru wanders in the snowstorm and is saved by Luna at the exact point Kakeru saved her, transformed into a beautiful human woman. She takes him near the moon, where Himeko, on her space mission, witnesses the phenomenon and realizes that Princess Kaguya is real. Luna tells him that he needs to start focusing on his relationship with Himeko, and the two kiss. After returning to the Earth, Kakeru takes up Luna's advice and meets Himeko at the airport, where the two reconcile. Artemis meets up with Luna and the cats reconcile.
Sailor Moon S: The Movie is based on the 135-page side story "Princess Kaguya's Lover" (かぐや姫の恋人, "Kaguya hime no Koibito"), written and illustrated by series creator Naoko Takeuchi and later published by Kodansha. Dissatisfied that she had left the production of the previous Sailor Moon film to others, Takeuchi envisioned "Princess Kaguya's Lover" as the plot of Sailor Moon S: The Movie, and proceeded to write the story "all in one go." She modeled the antagonist after an Art Deco antique named "Salome", while the Snow Dancers are modeled after a German china piece, which Takeuchi thought resembled "a character dancing in a snowstorm." On July 8, 1994, she traveled to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as part of her research; there, she watched the launch of space shuttle Columbia. She enjoyed working on the film, and liked the overall result, particularly Luna's transformation sequence. The film was soft matted for its theatrical release, as it was animated in 4:3 aspect ratio.
The film was first released in North America on VHS by Pioneer Entertainment on August 31, 1999 in Japanese with English subtitles. Pioneer later released the film to uncut bilingual DVD on May 23, 2000 alongside another VHS release containing an edited version of the English dub. Pioneer re-released their DVD on January 6, 2004 under their "Geneon Signature Series" line. The DVDs later fell out of print when Pioneer/Geneon lost the license to the film. The edited version was also shown on TV in Canada on YTV and in the US on Cartoon Network's Toonami block on November 9, 2001.
The English dub was produced in association with Optimum Productions in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and featured most of the original DiC English cast reprising their roles. The edited version of the dub was censored for content and replaced the music with cues from the DiC version of the first two seasons of the anime. The uncut version of the dub was only seen on the bilingual DVD, featured no censorship, and all of the original Japanese music was left intact, with the exception of the DiC theme song being used.
In 2014, the film was re-licensed for an updated English-language release in North America by Viz Media, who has plans to produce a new English dub of the film in association with Studiopolis in Los Angeles, California and re-release it on DVD and Blu-ray. It has also been licensed in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment.
Animerica noted that the film incorporates aspects of the Japanese folklore The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (竹取物語, Taketori Monogatari) and Yuki Onna (雪女, snow woman) in the antagonist's character.