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Phantom Menace

How Did the Phantom Menace Affect Ticket Sales of Movies Released in 1998?

Meet Joe Black is a 1998 American romantic fantasy film starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, and Claire Forlani. The film debuted on November 13, 1998, and grossed around $15 million in its first weekend, ranking third behind The Waterboy’s second weekend and the debut of I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. But did you know how Starwars Episode I: The Phantom Menace affected the ticket sales of movies released around the same time?

The trailer for “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” was attached to all three films in 1998, inflating ticket sales for Meet Joe Black, The Siege, and The Waterboy. Many people who had purchased movie tickets left after the Star Wars trailer.

What Happened When The Phantom Menace Trailer Was Released In Theaters?

In November 1998, many Star Wars fans had been waiting for the better part of five years to have their first look at Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Since George Lucas announced his return to the Star Wars universe in an October 1993 issue of Vanity Fair, anticipation for the new film had gradually grown. At long last was a first glimpse of what Lucas had in store. This wasn’t just another trailer; it was a spectacle, a force to be reckoned with.

After months of speculation about when and how the first Phantom Menace trailer would be released, Lucasfilm announced it on Star Wars’ official website.

The film’s first trailer will be shown in 75 cinemas across the United States and Canada on November 17th, three days before the film’s full release in North American theaters on November 20th. Furthermore, the trailer would appear in front and at the end of only three films: Adam Sandler’s The Waterboy, Brad Pitt’s three-hour drama Meet Joe Black, and Bruce Willis’ thriller The Siege.

As a result, ticket sales for those films skyrocketed. News outlets were amused as fans paid for a ticket to, say, Joe Black, sat through the trailer, and then left the theater without seeing the feature. According to Variety, about 500 people crammed into a screening of The Siege in Los Angeles one afternoon, only to get up and leave as soon as the Phantom Menace trailer ended.

It is unprecedented for an advance screening of a movie trailer to attract so much curiosity. It is unprecedented for a movie trailer to have an advance screening, let alone one that’s covered by the BBC, but everything about Episode I has been unprecedented.

Eric Eisenberg, The BBC

(Source: Cinemablend)

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Its Second Trailer

Much to Lucasfilm’s surprise, the second trailer had an even greater impact, particularly online. The trailer first appeared on the internet and was available for download from the Star Wars website on March 11, 1999. According to Jonathan Bowen’s book, Anticipation: The Real Life Story Of Star Wars: Episode I, the second trailer was downloaded by 3.5 million people in five days.

The biggest download event in history.

Steve Jobs, Co-founder Apple

Steve Jobs, who had struck a deal with Lucasfilm to release the trailer through QuickTime; a year later, the number of downloads would reach around 35 million. (Source: Den Of Geek

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