Sunday, May 19, 2019

20 Years Ago Today: 'Episode I: The Phantom Menace' Opened in Theaters

20 years ago today - May 19, 1999 - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace opened in theaters, reigniting the space saga for fans around the world.

Here's a quick look back at the movie that was our first step into larger worlds in the Star Wars universe.

On November 13, 1998, we got our first look at the new film, when the teaser trailer hit theaters with the film Meet Joe Black. Star Wars fans attended the first screenings of the movie just to see the trailer, only to leave after it played.

Within hours, this video was posted on internet message boards, which was taken with a camcorder in a theater. YouTube wouldn't be formed for another five years, and yet, the video was an online sensation for people who wanted to see the trailer again and again.

The Phantom Menace toys were an event unto themselves, hitting stores at midnight on May 3, 1999.

Although they turned out not to be as rare as everyone thought they might be, they've gained a nostalgic following, CommTech chips and all.

This picture came from a series of photos posted online by The Rock Father, who has a great look back at the midnight release for the toys. You can check out his pictures by clicking right here.

Last month, at Star Wars Celebration, members of the cast and crew reunited for a panel that looked back at the making of the film. Here's the video.

Although the film didn't quite meet the lofty expectations of the fans, over the years, the appreciation for the film has grown. It is now regarded as a classic in its own right, an adventure that kickstarted a new wave of Star Wars fandom. 

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