Prequel Trilogy,  The Phantom Menace

Today is the 20th anniversary of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace


Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was released on May 19, 1999 in North America, exactly 20 years ago.

On its original release, the movie grossed $431.1 million in North America and $493.2 million in other territories, resulting in a worldwide total of $924.3 million. It was the most successful movie of the year domestically and worldwide.

Using only reviews from the original release, The Phantom Menace would hold a 62% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

At the time of the release (4 months later in France), I was a young boy who had never watched Star Wars and who didn’t care about it. I only discovered The Phantom Menace shortly before the release of Attack of The Clones, in 2002. It was my first Star Wars experience. I thought it was great. And I still think that now.


  • James Cooray Smith

    I’m British. In 1999 I was twenty, and I flew to New York with my friend Jonny to see The Phantom Menace on US opening day, because it was coming out two months later in the UK, and I couldn’t wait any longer. I saw it at 6am on opening day at the Ziegfield in New York. I’ve never regretted it. I loved the movie then, and still do. I am so glad that I got to see it before the backlash began, and completely unspoiled. I still remember the gasp from the audience as Qui-Gon died, and the applause as Panaka introduced R2 to Queen Amidala, and going outside after the movie finished in a crowd of people who’d loved it, some of whom started queuing again for the 9am screening. Me, I went and bought a New York Times (and read Janet Maslin’s positive review, I still have the paper) and got a beer and sat outside a bar in the sunshine with Jonny and we just talked about how great it was, until the midday showing, when we went again. It’s still my second favourite Star Wars, after the beloved original, which is in my blood.

    • Alexrd

      I also hold A New Hope and The Phantom Menace as the best of the saga.

      As for the experience, I can say that I wasn’t aware of any backlash until roughly 2 years later. And upon further research, it was mostly fueled by the media and certain major geek sites who created and fed on the controversy (just like they fed on misinformation and fan theories before the movie came out).

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