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20 years ago, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace changed the movies forever



On May 19, 1999, George Lucas changed the movies forever. The long-awaited Star Wars Prequel Episode I: The Phantom Menace hit the cinemas and returned to a world that fans thought they would never see again. For some, the excitement turned into confusion, confusion, and rage as the credits rolled, and Lucas's great cinematic experiment had a rocky beginning. Looking back on the film two decades later, The Phantom Menace proved to be the forerunner of the cinematic environment in which we are now. It was a revolution of special effects, the first idea that stories could never end. and a film in which the director and the cast were subjected to enormous setbacks by the fans.

In 2019, we live in a world where massive, interconnected film universes dominate the coffers, and in the movies we are most nostalgic for, get their own big-budget remake with fresh faces, CGI budgets and skills that the original directors could never have imagined that. The return of Star Wars to theaters now seems almost inevitable, but its resurrection was not always secure. Lucas once departed largely from the franchise that established his career, though he had sometimes referred to a larger plan for two additional trilogies.

In the late 1980s, Lucasfilm began to work to see if there was still life in the franchise, and to publish a series of novels, the first of which, Timothy Zahn's Heritage of the Empire 1991 stood at the top of the bestseller list. In the following years, the company began to develop larger cross-promotion projects, bringing together the company's comics, novels, games, and action figures as a kind of trial run to see if all these parts could work together. They showed that Lucas' world is still viable, with crossover projects such as Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston's X-Wing series (which included books, video games and comics) and Shadows of the Empire (A book, a comic, a video game and action figures). Lucas had already begun working on a prequel trilogy and restored and updated the original films just in time for his 20th birthday. All of this was largely unknown at the time – but it spoke for the power the franchise had with fans who had watched the movies in cinemas or who had seen them on VHS ever since.

It's not uncommon for studios to put together a far-reaching intellectual property package to reach fans, not just with comics and novels, but also with a larger constellation of stories that build on and complement the film , In 1999, the concept of incorporating stories into a centralized canon was not commonplace. Nowadays, continuity and canon are key words, with fans scrutinizing every character and every action to make sure the stories they enjoy are holding together as they browse.


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