From ABC News:
“Film culture would never be the same after the release of Meet Joe Black.
People bought tickets for the film, where Brad Pitt plays the Grim Reaper, but they were really there to see the trailer for Star Wars: Episode One — The Phantom Menace. Most stayed for the 2 minutes and 12 second runtime of the trailer and then left. Only the brave stayed and watched all 3 hours of Meet Joe Black.
In Australia, senior lecturer in media at Swinburne University and author of Star Wars After Lucas, Dan Golding, was a pre-teen testing the limits of his household’s dial-up modem.
“I tied up the phone line for over an hour downloading the teaser trailer for The Phantom Menace on a 56k modem and scrutinised every frame. It was an impossibly mythic moment.”
Two decades later, the release of The Phantom Menace feels like a myth. A film too big to fail that lured in fans but left most of them seething. For 20 years we’ve been coming to terms with The Phantom Menace and how it drastically changed the way movies were made, marketed, consumed and then spat out.
The prequel turned 20 this week and its influence is still felt in CGI-heavy films and the moans of fans dissatisfied with everything from Game of Thrones to the latest adventure in a galaxy far, far away.
The rise of the internet collided with Hollywood in the lead up to the release of The Phantom Menace and it was the moment when trailers took centre stage. Now we have teasers trailers and teaser trailers for the actual trailers.
After Return of the Jedi, the only Star Wars fix you could get was through novels, comic books and video games. Star Wars fans had waited 16 years for an event they thought would never happen and it was destined to be huge. The trailer for The Phantom Menace was one of the first to go viral online, despite the agonising wait for each second of footage to download. The trailer made it into news bulletins as did the countdown to its release and fans camping outside cinemas for tickets.
One of the first dedicated film websites on the scene was Dark Horizons, based in Australia, run by editor, Garth Franklin.
“It was a big event, probably the single biggest I’d seen since Batman in 1989 in that everyone was talking about it,” says Franklin.
“Far bigger than even the recent double punch of Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones.” […]
Fans have always been misbehaving but the reaction to The Phantom Menace planted a seed of discontent within pop culture and a precedent for how to behave.
A lot of it may have been a mixture of great expectations, disappointment and denial but fans would go on to have their guard up about anything. It was no longer cool to be excited for a new Star Wars, in the fear you’d be humiliated if it was bad. The cynical age of fandom had begun.
“The Phantom Menace was perhaps the biggest early flashpoint that set us down the path that we find ourselves on today in terms of a certain strain of fan feeling like they own popular culture,” Golding says.
When you see online petitions to remake the final season of Game of Thrones or the harassment of people who don’t give fans what they want, it’s a symptom of two decades of fans spreading the sentiment to never forget The Phantom Menace.