It's hard to deny that Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace was a groundbreaking film for the franchise. The first new film in the series after a 16-year hiatus, The Phantom Menace is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and in its honor, why not check out this list for the most interesting facts you did not know about Star Wars Episode I.
The Phantom Menace was a landmark film in the visual effects industry, making use of CGI and other digital alteration techniques on a scale that had never been previously seen in movies. For the first time, many sets, characters, and props were entirely computer-generated, allowing Lucas to realize the grand scope he had originally envisioned for his first three Star Wars movies. In fact, the use of VFX was so prevalent in the movie that almost every shot is digitally altered in some way. The only shot that wasn't altered was the scene where Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon escape the poisonous gas aboard the Trade Federation's flagship early in the movie.
To say that The Phantom Menace's release was highly anticipated may be an understatement. Lines began forming outside theaters up to a month prior to release, and scalpers sold tickets for as high as $100 apiece. Hype for the movie was so high that many businesses actually shut their doors for the premiere. It's estimated that as many as 2.2 million full-time employees missed work to see the movie, resulting in a staggering $293 million in lost productivity nationwide.
With more resources at his disposal, Lucas had a more lavish vision for the worlds and aesthetics of Episode I. Though many costumes were made with CGI, costume designer Trisha Biggar worked closely with the film's creative team to create a massive physical wardrobe for the film. Reportedly, roughly 5,250 costumes were created for the movie: 250 for the main stars and 5,000 for extras and other background actors.
Episode I introduced the still-controversial concept of midichlorians, microbiotic organisms that allow individuals to use the Force. Lucas recently revealed that his plans for the sequel trilogy would have included protagonists shrinking to microscopic size to find the origins of midichlorians and other mysterious miniature beings known as the Whills.
Despite pioneering the use of visual effects and CGI, Episode I's iteration of lovable droid C-3PO was realized using a decidedly old-fashioned method. It's not animatronics, either: C-3PO is actually a life-size puppet. A professional puppeteer would dress in a full-body suit that roughly matched the background color of the scene while manipulating the puppet. Actor Anthony Daniels would then read his lines for the role off-camera, and the puppeteer would be digitally erased in post-production.
The role of sinister Sith Lord Darth Maul is played by stuntman Ray Park. Originally a member of the movie's stunt team, Park was tapped for the role after his impressive combat displays. Unfortunately, Park's voice didn't make the cut for the final film. Lucas found Park's voice "too squeaky," and his dialogue was dubbed over by British actor and voice actor Peter Serafinowicz.
After completing "Return of the Jedi", Star Wars mastermind George Lucas took a long hiatus from the franchise, stating that he was too burnt out to continue with Star Wars. After seeing renewed fan interest with the release of several pieces of tie-in media, Lucas began working on the prequel trilogy in earnest. Even so, he was still reluctant to take the reigns as director and approached several alternate candidates for the role. Those candidates included such names as Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, and Robert Zemeckis, who all turned down the job in fear of such a daunting task. Howard would eventually return to the franchise to direct "Solo: A Star Wars Story".
Amidala's entourage of body doubles and handmaidens includes some familiar faces. Actress Keira Knightley was still a relative unknown when she donned her orange handmaiden robes, despite her parents pressuring her not to audition. She apparently looked so similar to actress Natalie Portman that their parents couldn't tell them apart on set. Sofia Coppola, daughter of iconic director Francis Ford Coppola and now a famous director in her own right, also appears as one of the handmaidens.
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|1||Almost every shot was digitally altered||Other||16||Paid|
|2||Companies closed on release day||Other||14||Paid|
|3||Tons of costumes were made for the film||Other||6||Paid|
|4||George Lucas wanted to make a movie about midichlorians||Other||2||Paid|
|5||C-3PO is actually a puppet||Other||2||Paid|
|6||What you hear isn't Darth Maul's real voice||Other||2||Paid|
|7||Ron Howard almost directed the movie||Other||2||Paid|
|8||Queen Amidala has a star-studded entourage||Other||1||Paid|
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