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25 Things You Didn't Know About THE PHANTOM MENACE

Love it or hate it, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was a landmark in sci-fi cinema, reigniting the franchise and paving the way for a new generation of Star Wars fans. While there was a lot going on in the actual movie, the production had a complex history as well. Here are 25 things you may not have known about the movie.

1. Along the lines of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, all three prequel films were originally intended to be written and shot as one large production, and released back-to-back.

2. Unlike the latter two films in the series which were shot entirely on digital video, most of Episode I was shot in film, with only two scenes shot in digital video.

3. The Phantom Menace was the first of the Star Wars series to be referred to primarily by its number (Episode One) by media and fans.

4. The "water" cascading over the falls in the Naboo capital city isn't CGI or water. It's salt.

5. Qui-Gon Jinn's communicator is a redecorated Sensor Excel Razor for Women.

6. This is the first movie to show every time a lightsaber is activated or deactivated. In the original trilogy, this mostly had to occur off-screen because they would physically switch from a lightsaber hilt to a lightsaber hilt with the "blade" inserted, which led to an awkward jump cut.

7. During filming, Ewan McGregor kept making lightsaber noises as he dueled. It was noted and corrected during post production.

8. Sets were planned to be built only as high as the tops of the actors' heads and computer graphics filled in the rest. But Liam Neeson was so tall that he cost the set crew an extra $150,000 in construction.

9. Natalie Portman (Queen Amidala) missed the premiere party in New York because she had to go home to study for her high school final exams.

10. After the film's end credits, the sound effect of Darth Vader's breathing can be heard.

11. Mostly because the contact lenses that Ray Park wore made it difficult to blink, Darth Maul only blinks once in the movie, when he is stabbed by Obi-Wan Kenobi

12. Benicio Del Toro was originally set to play Darth Maul, but left the film after George Lucas cut most of Maul's lines.

13. The name "Jar Jar" was created by George Lucas' son.

14. Keira Knightley doubled for Natalie Portman when she appeared on-screen with her handmaidens. Even Keira's own mother couldn't tell them apart on the set. To this day, it's a matter of debate who is who in each scene.

15. The novelization includes a passage describing the history of the Sith, based on an hour-long conversation author Terry Brooks had with Lucas on the history of the Jedi and the Sith.

16. Among the props in the background aboard the ship as the group leaves Tatooine are three Hewlett-Packard Inkjet cartridges.

17. Many shots were created digitally by combining parts from multiple takes. For example, in the scene where Padme meets Anakin, Natalie Portman's seventh take and Jake Lloyd's first take were spliced together into the same frame with Lloyd's mouth at the end coming from take fifteen.

18. There is only one shot in the entire movie where no visual effects were added at all: the shot of the dioxis gas pouring out of the vent in the meeting room.

19. As an homage to Spielberg putting Yoda in E.T., Lucas included members of E.T.'s race in one shot of the Galactic Senate. Later, a novel expanded on E.T.' s role by giving him the name Grebleips, "Spielberg" spelled backwards.

20. Servers at the film's official website became gridlocked soon after the release of the first teaser trailer.

21. The first teaser trailer for The Phantom Menace appeared in the previews before Meet Joe Black. As many as 70% of the audience paid full admission to see Meet Joe Black only to leave after the teaser trailer had run.

22. It's estimated that 2.2 million full-time employees skipped work to attend the film, resulting in $293 million in lost productivity. So many workers announced plans to skip work to watch the movie that many companies shut down on opening day.

23. The Matrix won the visual effects Academy Award over The Phantom Menace. It was the first time a Star Wars film lost in that Oscar category.

24. The Phantom Menace became the fastest selling DVD ever in the US. 2.2 million copies were sold in its first week after release.

25. Jake Lloyd, who played Anakin Skywalker, was teased so much in school for his role in Phantom Menace that he went into seclusion and vowed never to act again.


Update: Corrected #6

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  1. Only one shot without effects. That's really sad.
    Forgot that was Knightley in the movie.
    And a woman's razor? Now that's rather funny.

  2. The world's probably better off without Jake Lloyd acting. Can you believe before YouTube you actually had to pay full price for a crummy movie just to watch a trailer for another crummy movie? What an age we live in!

  3. Great list! I remember having a crick in my neck because the only seat that I could get was the from row.


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