The Phantom Menace Celebrates 25 Years With a Return to Theaters

The Star Wars fandom got into a tizzy earlier this week when Empire Magazine teased something. Rather than being a look at the future of the franchise—like say, The Acolyte, Andor, or Bad Batch—it was all about the past. Thanks to Empire, we’re going back to the Prequels, babyyyyyyyy!

As part of its larger cover story for the second set of Star Wars movies, Empire’s revealed that Episode I: The Phantom Menace will be making its way back to theaters for a limited time, starting on May 3. The (chronologically) first Star Wars movie is 25 this year, and like Return of the Jedi last year, Disney’s marking the occasion by putting it back on the big screen. Also like Return and Empire Strikes Back’s respective 40th anniversaries, there’s a brand new poster from artist Matt Ferguson, which you can see below. At time of writing, Disney hasn’t put the poster will be up for sale.

Image: Matt Ferguson/Lucasfilm

The Phantom Menace originally released on May 16, 1999. Back then, its big cliam to fame was being the first new movie since Return in 1983. Back then, the series was kept alive with comics, the Expanded Universe novels, and video games, which made the propsect of going back to Darth Vader’s origin exciting. And the end result…was not what older fans really wanted. While there was certainly stuff to appreciate like the visual effects, John Williams score, and that fight between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul, everything else wasn’t hitting quite as much. But it made a lot of money—originally $924.3 million, then an extra $102.7 million with a 3D reissue in 2012, bringing it up to $1.027 billion.

In 2019, we asked fans at Star Wars Celebration their feelings on Phantom, and many were appreciative of what the film was trying to do. The Prequels have gradually gotten a re-examination in the last decade, so for those who haven’t seen the film in a very long time, this re-release is a good opportunity to get in on that. After all, it’s not like it can get worse after all this time.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.



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