“Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace” has Big Re-Release to Celebrate 25th Anniversary

This past Saturday was May the 4th, the annual Star Wars celebration that began with this apocryphal story: the first reference came on May 4, 1979, the day Margaret Thatcher became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The story goes that her political party, the Conservatives, took out an ad in the London Evening News that read, “May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations.” Yet this advertisement, as far as we can tell, has never resurfaced online, but May the 4th has forever become a day that Star Wars fans and Lucasfilm (and now Disney) celebrate the iconic franchise.

This makes the re-release of George Lucas’s Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace such a meaningful addition to the ongoing celebration. The film was back in theaters over the weekend, pulling in an extremely impressive $14.5 million at the global box office, a pretty stunning achievement for the re-release of a film that’s a quarter of a century old. The film pulled in $8.1 million domestically, which lightsabered its way to No. 2 spot at the box office. It was shown in 2,700 domestic theaters, including 150 Premium Large Format screens and 130 specialty motion D-Box/4D auditoriums.

The Phantom Menace is canonically the first film in the broader chronology begun by Lucas. It is the first film in a trilogy centered on the life of a young Anakin Skywalker, a gifted child whose life will come to have a massive effect on the galaxy. The Phantom Menace is followed by The Clone Wars. and The Revenge of the Sith, which detailed the final, excruciating descent of Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker into the Sith lord Darth Vader after a brutal lightsaber battle with his former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor.) Christensen has since reprised the role in two Star Wars series for Disney+: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka, where his tortured Sith Lord is seen battling his old Jedi master Obi-Wan and battling and teaching his former Padawan warrior Ahsoka.

(L-R): Darth Vader (Hayden Christensen) and Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) in Lucasfilm’s STAR WARS: AHSOKA, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

The Phantom Menace‘s re-release was also an effort to celebrate its 25th anniversary—it was released on May 19, 1999, and was the first new Star Wars film in 16 years since 1983’s Return of the Jedi. The Phantom Menace introduces Ewan McGregor’s younger version of Obi-Wan, Liam Neeson’s Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, Natalie Portman’s Queen Amidala/Padmé, Jake Lloyd’s young Anakin Skywalker, Ian McDiarmid’s Senator Palpatine, Ahmed Best’s divisive Jar Jar Binks, returns Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker as C-3P0 and R2-D2 respectively, as well as returns Frank Oz as Yoda, and introduces Ray Park as the formidable Darth Maul. For those that head to the theater to see The Phantom Menace, you’ll also get a special glimpse at the upcoming series Star Wars: The Acolyte.

Check your local listings to see where The Phantom Menace is playing near you.

For more on all things Star Wars, check out these stories:

James Mangold’s “Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi” Film Taps “House of Cards” Creator Beau Willimon as Co-Writer

Darkness Rises in “The Acolyte” Trailer, Revealing a New Kind of “Star Wars” Series

Disney+’s New “Star Wars” Series “The Acolyte” Unveils Premiere Date

New “Star Wars” Movie “The Mandalorian & Grogu” Announced From Director Jon Favreau

Featured image: Qui-Gon (Liam Neeson) in George Lucas’s “The Phantom Menace.” Courtesy Lucasfilm/Walt Disney Studios


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