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Revisiting 'The Phantom Menace': Looking Back on the Long Road to 'Star Wars: Episode I'

Posted on 23 April, 2018 by Mia
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Revisiting 'The Phantom Menace': Looking Back on the Long Road to 'Star Wars: Episode I'

The Phantom Menace did not appear out of nowhere, and its box office success was a surprise to no one. Packed with familiar stories and motifs, George Lucas ensured this Star Wars prequel would illuminate a thematic symphony across his six-part space opera. If anything about the film is shocking in hindsight, it's how fans and moviegoers' perceptions of Episode I have changed since its premiere on May 19, 1999.

The journey to Episode I was filled with moments that highlight the changing landscape of filmmaking, advances in computer technology and the rise of web-based relationships with fans -- as well as times when Lucas' original plans for the trilogy evolved on the page and behind-the-scenes. To celebrate the Star Wars milestone, ET has compiled a complete timeline of how The Phantom Menace was finally brought to light.

May 21, 1980:With The Empire Strikes Back, George Lucas adds the "Episode V" modifier to the title. While developing the movie's script, he fleshed out the saga's backstory so as to incorporate the plot twist of Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker's father. Thus begins anticipation for a trio of prequel films that would explore the beginning of a mythology that had become a pop culture phenomenon.

May 25, 1983:Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi is released and the Skywalker saga begins its long cinematic slumber.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, George Lucas

Photo by Getty Images

January 9, 1987: Star Tours opens in Disneyland's Tomorrowland, becoming an instant success and an oasis of sorts for deprived Star Wars fans. On a recent episode of Podcast: The Ride, SNL's Kyle Mooney described the late '80s and early '90s as a "dark period for Star Wars" and commented how the motion simulator ride -- and Star Trader gift shop -- was one of the few places where people could immerse themselves in a galaxy far, far away.

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