Prequel Trilogy,  The Phantom Menace

The first trailer for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace debuted exactly 20 years ago

The first trailer for Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace debuted exactly 20 years ago, on November, 17, 1998.

If you want to know more about the context, here are some excerpts of Jonathan L. Bowen’s Anticipation: The Real Life Story of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.



  • Cryogenic

    Twenty years today? Yowzers.

    I still remember the insane buzz for the teaser trailer. It was a truly momentous thing in mainstream film/pop culture.

    I taped the trailer off a BBC television programme when it aired. That was a first. Popping a tape in the machine to record a film trailer!!!

    I even transferred the audio from the VHS cassette onto my computer. Remember, it was 1998, so pretty cutting-edge stuff. I didn’t have any means of transferring the actual picture, but obtaining a clean digital copy of the audio was fun.

    And then, at some point, I guess I downloaded the full trailer, too. I had a net connection in 1998, but it was dial-up back then. The switch to broadband was still another year or two away. I was also the first person out of my tech-minded friends to get a broadband connection.

    I also downloaded the few still images that were available for Episode I around that time and wove them into a mini slide-show — set somewhat incongruously to Moby’s version of the James Bond theme from “Tomorrow Never Dies”. Good times.

    Things have moved on quite a bit since then. But these films still have a hold on me after twenty years…

  • Alexrd

    I remember downloading it from the official site in a public library with my friends and watching it without sound (there was no sound board or columns on those). Then later at home, downloaded it again during the night to finally watch it in its full, 210p glory (with sound at last).

    Heck, Wayback Machine still has the page archived, and the trailer files too:

    «The trailer for Episode I runs over two full minutes, filled with a full spectrum of images from George Lucas’ newest movie. “The trailer works together conceptually with the advance one-sheet and theatrical banner,” commented Jim Ward, Lucasfilm Director of Marketing. “They are all united in how they speak about the film. We wanted to convey that Episode I is the beginning of the Star Wars saga. At heart it’s the story of Anakin Skywalker, a young boy who must begin to face the destiny ahead of him. And without ruining the surprise of the film, we wanted the images in the trailer to introduce people to the amazing visions in Episode I.”

    Director George Lucas was closely involved in the development of the piece, which both reveals and conceals exactly what he wants for audiences at this time. Teams at 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm worked together to craft a trailer that conveys key aspects of the film and its story within a dazzling array of images. “It may look like this trailer gives away a lot,” says the trailer’s editor Mark Mrnka, “but it’s only scratching the surface.” Ben Burtt prepared special sound tracks mixed by Gary Rydstrom, offering at least one “special touch” for fans who notice subtlety. “We’re excited about it,” Jim Ward admits. “We can’t wait for our fans to see it.”»

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