Why hello there, Rebelscum fans! We’re taking a dive into the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and this week we’re looking at the saga’s beginning with The Phantom Menace. Make sure to check out our base “Expand Your Mind” article first to learn about the film’s conception and production, but we’ll be talking Episode I this week. Stay tuned for our “Character Profile” spotlight on an individual character and our “Force Facts” listing some fun trivia about the film. Subscribe to our YouTube page to get Bobby’s video updates providing other interesting insights, and learn about all the best The Phantom Menace merchandise out there.
The Phantom Menace had an interesting re-release that we’ll be discussing today in our “Timeline Breakdown.” Like all of the saga’s films, Episode I was re-edited slightly in the subsequent home video releases on DVD and Blu-Ray. However, Lucas planned to unveil his restored saga on the big screen again, but with a twist. He had been keen to experiment with 3D for a while.
Lucasfilm announced plans to re-release the six films in theaters in 2010 in 3D, starting with The Phantom Menace in February 2012. Visual effects supervisor John Knoll had the difficult task of taking a film from 1999 and re-crafting it in 3D. The Phantom Menace had been extensively restored for the 2011 Blu-Ray. Knoll is one of the foremost experts on the franchise’s technology, vehicles, and locations; he would later help craft the story for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
At the time, the re-release of older films converted to 3D was popular. Classics like Titanic, The Lion King, and Monsters Inc. had all been quite successful, and Lucasfilm began amping up the marketing for the saga relaunch with a teaser trailer launched in November 2011 in front of The Three Musketeers.
The 3D re-release had larger ramifications for Star Wars’ toy line and current storylines. Simultaneously, Darth Maul had made his return to The Clone Wars, with his eagerly awaited first re-encounter with Obi-Wan Kenobi scheduled to end the show’s fourth season. The season finale landed in March, and fans were eager to see the Sith apprentice on screen again. With Maul-branded packaging on the year’s toy releases, 2012 became the year of Darth Maul.
Despite the well-received response to seeing the film again in theaters, the re-release of The Phantom Menace unfortunately under-performed and only came in fourth at the box office during its opening weekend in February. The additional earnings were still enough to push the film’s box office over $1 billion, the first for a Star Wars movie. The Phantom Menace remained the highest grossing Star Wars film until The Force Awakens overtook it in 2015.
The re-releases of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith were originally scheduled to be re-released within weeks of each other in fall 2013, but both were taken off the calendar. Fans that attended Celebration Europe in July 2013 were lucky enough to see the 3D version of Attack of the Clones, but unfortunately they haven’t been screened to any wider audiences. It’s unclear if the cancellation came as a result of the minimal box office, or if Disney chose to go in a different direction when the Lucasfilm purchase was announced in November 2012.
However, the re-release did provide an opportunity for younger fans who hadn’t seen the film in theaters before to finally experience it. I’ll proudly say that I saw the 3D re-release of The Phantom Menace twice during opening weekend; once at the midnight premiere, and again the following Saturday. As someone whose Star Wars theatrical viewing had previously only been limited to The Clone Wars film in 2008, it was nice to see the saga in its intended format on the big screen.
What do you think, Rebelscum fans? Did you catch The Phantom Menace during its 3D re-release? Do you want to see the other prequels in 3D? Let us know in the forums, and as always, may the Force be with you!