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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

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Release Date: May 19, 1999 (North America)

Genres: Action, Science Fiction, Sequel          MPAA Rating: PG

Production Phase: Released

Studio: 20th Century Fox   Production Company: Lucasfilm, Ltd.

Who's In It: Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn), Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Natalie Portman (Queen Padmé Amidala), Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker), Pernilla August (Shmi Skywalker)

Who's Making It: George Lucas (Director), George Lucas (Screenwriter), Rick McCallum (Producer), George Lucas (Executive Producer), David Tattersall (Director of Photography)

Premise: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away the Galactic Republic is upon the precipice of war. The aggressive Trade Federation sparks a conflict that threatens to consume the galaxy. After failing to... More »

Official Website: www.starwars.com/movies/episode-i

What We Think: You can write a book about what has been rumored, supposed, conjectured, hoped for, begged and outright lied about these movies.In 1977, after the huge initial success of the first Star Wars movie, the public... More »

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Sunday, June 1, 1997

This fellow's friend who works in the editorial department of Calendar has heard a rumor that may be a significant plot spoiler if it turns out to be accurate. According to the rumor, the new character Liam Neeson is slated to play will eventually become Emperor Palpatine by the close of Chapter Two. We have also heard some fan gossip about this possibility from other circles. The reasoning behind this move is to throw another curve ball to filmgoers, as the revelation of who Luke's father was to audiences in The Empire Strikes Back.

- Scoop submitted by John Butcher. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Tuesday, May 20, 1997

Lucasfilm has confirmed on their web site and in a electronic newsletter that they have approached Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman for roles in the upcoming prequels - but no definate casting decisions have been made. According to the Lucasfilm website, the pre-production image of Coruscant seen in Time is indeed from the prequel design team.

In addition The Hollywood Reporter ran an article speculating that child actor Jake Lloyd (seen as Arnold Schwarzenegger's son in Jingle All the Way, and not to be confused with early casting rumors about Eric Lloyd) may now be the frontrunner for the young Anakin role. The eight-year-old actor has, ironically (or fortuitously, maybe) had a re-occuring role in E.R.

Brent Lynch and the Bothan posse he travels with point out some really hard Double Jeopardy! Jedi trivia. The movie that Jake Lloyd appears in, Fox's Jingle All the Way, was the first TwenCen Fox picture to feature the wide-release SE Trilogy trailer (the ID4 one was limited and a test market.) You might not think this important or relevant, but I'm sure they said that about that book depository building and that "weird-lookin' puff of smoke over yonder by that grassy hill, or knoll, or whatever it is". Ya dig?

Additional commentary by Mr. Lynch: "If he and Portman stick as 'The future Mr. and Mrs. Skywalker' respectively, that would mean Portman (now 16, she won't turn 17 until filming likely wraps) would be twice the age of Lloyd in the first film. However, their relationship is said to be really pretty sweet and innocent in Episode I, with the recast leads (both characters will be about ten years older) who will play the roles for Episode II & III developing their relationship further (ahem) with their 'marriage' taking place at the end of II (the marriage bit from Rick McCallum).

"Personally, I think, as far as pre-teen male actors go, he's as good as you could ask for. Generally, girls always beat out boys in the acting department around that age, though this doubtlessly is going to mean that in some measure, Anakin will be seduced by her. It won't be necessarily evil, as Palpatine would fill that role, hence completing the last 'missing' chain of Joseph Campbell's 'Hero's Journey.'"

- Musings sent in by Brent Lynch. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Tuesday, April 29, 1997

We've been hearing rumors that Gregory Hines is being considered for a character to be seen throughout all three prequel films. One scooper, known as 'Tom', tells us he is "very close friends with Gregory Hines' agent" wrote us that his character is named 'A-90' and no, it's not a robot. The same person said filming begins in London in May, and that it was a small supporting role only, but the character is seen in all three films. Meanwhile, an anonymous fella says Hines will portray a relative of Lando Calrissian, and that his character is involved with the downfall of the Republic.

So why do we post two conflicting rumors? To show you a) how these things get started, b) maybe help with rumor control, and c) show you the headache it gives us. The 'A-90' rumor is particularly juicy: sounds like someone's following up on our 'OB-1' speculation (remember - you read it here first!)

- Rumors sent in by 'frankie', Tom and anonymously. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Wednesday, April 16, 1997

An anonymous writer tells us that their brother's friend who works at ILM told him that they saw artwork for special effects shots. On the bottom of the pictures were listed the following monikers: 'Balance of the Force' for the part one artwork; 'Rise of the Empire' for the part two artwork; and 'Fall of the Jedi' for the part three artwork.

Another individual says that we shouldn't believe anything posted on another movie rumor site (hell, d'you think we believe the stuff on here?) "There is NO Bosh, OR Bonjok [characters]. Natalie Portman will NOT play the young queen. Obi-Wan will be played by an unknown 30ish British actor. Oh,the queen will be a Latina 14yr old in Ep.1! P.S:I've read some of the Queen's lines 'punched up' by Carrie. This is one hell of a movie!" George, do us a favor - announce the casting already!

- Scoops sent in anonymous & by Princess Zara of Utapau. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Friday, April 4, 1997

If this one's fake, the fella gets credit for originality:

"My friend's brother's friend (I know, I know, it doesn't sound solid) works for ILM and found out saber colors for the prequels. They are: yellow, green, blue, magenta, white. Also, the hilt's aren't going to be like DV's, Ben's, or either of Luke's. He says that they are going to be a composite of all of them and a bit longer with wider openings. (I can believe the wider opening thing. Obi-Wan's has a wide opening, then, when Luke made his green saber, it had a wide opening. Maybe wide openings keep back falling into fashion. 'Levi's Wide Leg Sabers. It's wiiiide open.')

- Rumor sent in by 'High Roller'. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Thursday, April 3, 1997

Our latest scooper claims that Neeson's character's name is named 'Bosh'.

- Scoop submitted by 'Luke Skyhopper'. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Wednesday, April 2, 1997

Liam Neeson is now the frontrunner to play a new character in the prequels. The unnamed character is a Jedi: not quite a Jedi Master, but more than a Jedi Knight (a Jedi Mentor, perhaps?) The character will be to a young Obi-Wan Kenobi as the elder Kenobi was to young Luke Skywalker. Neeson has reportedly tested with several unnamed actors who are frontrunners for their character roles. Neeson has met with Lucas on several occasions and discussions are on-going.

- Scoops sent in by Gavin, James, Jack Bryan, 'wvh', 'Maverick', 'JTR555', Clifford T. Bircks, Cory, Brian Varland, 's_nova', 'spook', 'Godzookie', 'Zappadog', Todd Dupler, Jeff Donnell, 'Obi-Marc', Scott, 'Taikicker', 'JRoyce', 'Dodonna', 'Meglar', Christian, 'Curmudgeon', anonymous individuals and a lot of other people. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Sunday, March 30, 1997

Two reports are received that the British pop-ambient group Sneaker Pimps has been asked to 'collaborate' on Lucas' new film, 'Star Wars: Balance of the Force'. Liam Howe, one of the group, was quoted on the Planet Sound programme on Channel 4 as saying, ""George Lucas insists on everything just the way he likes it, but he's given us a free hand with the theme so far." Both scoopers don't know what to make of this at all...it kind of flies against the pre-established tradition of having instrumental music being the primary musical score heard in the show (if you don't count the two alien songs in Return of the Jedi, that is.) Our best guess is that the Pimps are doing an dance mix homage of the theme and that it won't be featured in the new show.

- Scoops sent in by Andrew Asbury and Gavin. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Saturday, March 29, 1997

On Sunday March 23rd the BBC programme Omnibus showed an hour-long report profiling George Lucas and highlighting the United Kingdom release of the Star Wars Special Edition. During the show they also showed shots of a backstage tour inside Leavesden Studios with Rick McCallum and George Lucas, and lurking in the background of some shots could be the first glimpse of a possible Episode I vehicle (the images on the right; click on them to view larger pictures of them.)

Comments from the readers who saw the programme:
 

1. "Some very short shots of space ship models that are under construction were shown and there was also a glimpse of design drawings that Lucas was looking at. The models shown were that of a ship with a WWII-like fuselage with very big B747-type jet-engines. There were a very big version and a tiny one shown. At the end of the sequence Rick McCallum opens the big slide doors to an empty sound stage and spoke the words: 'And here at stage B of Leavesden is where it all begins...' [Sent in by Gert Kuiper.]

 

2. "...towards the end of the show a clip was seen of Lucas walking through what appeared to be a pre-production model shop and stopping to discuss some design blueprints. The clip was too brief to see the drawings but the camera crew obviously knew that they were onto a good thing and zoomed in on a completed vehicle model sitting on a workbench. It appeared to be the type of model used for digitising purposes (as in the 'full size' figures used in the making of Toy Story) as it seemed to be made of clay (no painted details) and too small for use in matte shots. The craft itself was a wingless cigar shaped body with two very large 747-Jumbo type engines toward the rear (one each side).

"The documentary makers held the close up for a second or two, so there should be ample opportunity for someone with the right equipment to framegrab a shot (I've got the show but not the equipment). Following the appearance of the Coruscant design sketch in the Jedi Special Edition, I think I'm right in saying that this is the first authentic shot of any Episode One design." [Report from Ian Lambeth.]
 

3. "Forget your X, Y, B, A wings, the new ships are really cool!

"The first one was pretty plain. It was long with a smooth pointdee nose (like a squashed concorde or the front of a Blackbird spy plane.) It had NO wings, but hanging off each side and a little below were these MASSIVE turbine/rocket engines. Their diamaeter was bigger than the fusealage. I guess it would be about the size of the Falcon (although the model was only a couple of metres wide. The second one was really cool, and I got a much better look at it. It reminded me of one of the Amercian jets used in Vietnam.

"It was so unbelievable I wondered whether they could be fakes designed to delibrately fool us. The ships in Episode 1 are likely to be CGI, so unless they had to make one for actors to climb in and out of, there would be little need for physical models. If it is true, then I would expect the Falcon to be in Episode 1. Compared with these retro designs the Falcon would be state of the art." [Sent in by Adrian Faulkner.]

 

So just how much can we learn from this quick snapshot of the ships? The clay texture of the ship is indicitive of it being a pre-production model. These are created to give designers a 'concrete' view of all sides of the model so continuity is preserved.

But what about the ship's retro look, and those huge engines that resemble jet turbines? One of our regular readers (and a major Star Wars aficiando) had some thoughts on the vessel in question...

"I hope that is a pre pre pre production model, because all it is is an A-10 model fuselage with the A-10 engines glued on the sides... [Written by 'JDAILY74'; forwarded by Brent Lynch.]

"Talk about your kit-bashing (for the not-in-the-know, it's the practice ILM'ers have of taking a bunch of off-the-shelf model kits, bashing them to bits and sticking their pieces together to make a ship) , there's a reason why that clay model ship...looks vaguely like a 'modern-day' aircraft. I'm kinda embarrassed that I didn't notice this one off the bat..." [Commentary by Brent Lynch.]

Is this mystery ship going to be seen in Chapter 1? Or is it just a discarded design? Chances are the ship is genuine, although not as important in its place in the prequel as other designs kept under lock-and-key.

- In addition to those mentioned above, we'd also like to thank 'Gerto' and 'THX 1138'. But the real person to thank is 'Gyger' for sending us in scanned in images of the ship design. If we were still in school, he'd get our 'Star of the Week' award. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Sunday, March 23, 1997

A scooper reports that Mexican Customs at Puebla International Airport received forms to legalize the entry of 'digital filming equipment' into Mexican territory. The equipment comes from the U.S.A. and its point-of-departure was Los Angeles International Airport. The description of the equipment was stated as 'digital filming equipment', a.k.a. video equipment. Dennis Muren, ILM's FX whiz, said that the prequels would be entirely shot on video, to make digital manipulation easier, faster and cheaper. The scooper neglected to mention if this actually was equipment owned by Lucasfilm...we're assuming they meant to tell us that.

- Scoop provided by Jacinto el Jedi. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Tuesday, March 18, 1997

The pre-production sketch thought to be designed for Episode I of the new trilogy is false after all. Said image of a transport ship on Coruscant has now been verified as a design sketch for the new end celebration footage seen in Return of the Jedi: Special Edition.

Rumors of Lucasfilm ordering a fan-designed Star Wars web page (called Jedinet) to remove certain material listed on their site have been sent to CA. According to these scoopers, the Web page in question has removed the material. This has fueled much speculation that the information concerning Episode I appearing on the page was accurate enough for Lucasfilm to respond. Of course, there are also scoopers who doubt the validity of this "event", questioning if it may be an attempt by the page writer to boost attention to their site. In any case, the page claimed that an pre-Imperial starship called a 'Dreadnaught' (and mentioned in the Star Wars novels) will be seen; that a world named "Concord Dawn" will be shown; and that Boba Fett will make an appearance as either a young man or boy. Our source who owns a time machine and who recently visited the year 1999 ("around the end of May or thereabouts", they said), ain't talkin' to us. Or letting us play with their new Kenner action figures.

- Bothans Brent Lynch, Jay Majer and GRiffDoggieDog. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Thursday, March 6, 1997

For those of you interested (y'know, the three or four of you) our scooper Jolaris sent in a transcript of the pertenant sections Lucas and producer Rick McCallum had to say about the three new films. Some small details can be picked out and puzzled over in the interim while we wait for that first official Lucasfilm press release...

"The first three really deal with the fall of Anakin - you will just see the saga of a young boy, his relationship with mother, how he grows up, who he marries, the children he has. He makes a pivotal choice in his life: a road that takes him to the dark side and he pays the consequences of that. We see his children grow up and see him finally redeemed." - Producer Rick McCallum.

"The fascination with doing the new movies is, you know, I've been interested in doing a lot of other things since I finished the first trilogy which I kind of burned out after doing - but there's always been this lure about going back because the story as a whole, all 12 hours of it, is actually more interesting than what is out there now. When you actually get the whole story and see it in context, then you understand what Vader's side of the story is, what we have not heard yet and it makes it a much more interesting drama - it's a man struggling with temptation and he loses.

"The big chance that I am taking is that I am working on something that I started 20 years ago and whether it will fit into the modern world marketing wise I am not sure. The first one I'm doing is very much like the first one I did before, it is kind of upbeat and fun. The first one always gets to introduce the characters and does not have all that much else to do, so it is easy. Second one things start to go wrong and get complicated, and the third one is the dark one - it will probably fit in really well with 21st century!" - George Lucas.

- A major, major thank you to 'Jolaris' for capturing some of that elusive information! Comment on this Scoop (0)
Wednesday, March 5, 1997

In an interview done for BBC Radio One on March 2nd, George Lucas commented on the three new Star Wars chapters. Lucas spoke briefly about the direction of the first picture: "The first one I'm doing is very much like the first one I did before, it is kind of upbeat and fun. The first one always gets to introduce the characters and does not have all that much else to do, so it is easy."

- Scoop sent in by Dark Lord 'Jolaris'. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Thursday, February 27, 1997

This scooper tells us they've seen the press conference made for the release of the Star Wars Special Edition. "When asked about the prequels, Lucas said that 'It will feature a race of cosmic beings that will be entirely computer generated and the biggest problem is to make these creatures seamlessly interact with human actors.' "

Meanwhile, an Atlanta reader passes on information taken from a local paper which conducted an interview with Kenneth Branagh on his Hamlet publicity tour. In the interview, Branagh explains that the Obi-Wan rumor began in one of the Australian Star Wars fanzines, which conducted a wish-list of actors they'd like to see in roles in the prequels. Lucasfilm was almost immediately questioned if there were any truth to this rumor (which they denied), and when Branagh learned of it he was flattered - then he contacted Lucasfilm and told them he absolutely did not start it. Then Branagh says something startling - Lucasfilm and Branagh began a conversation where they discussed the possibility of the actor actually cast as a young Obi-Wan...but nothing has ever come of it. When asked if he would take the part if it were offered to him, Branagh replied "Absolutely."

- First scoop sent in by 'fuxoft', second sent in by Widgett. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Friday, February 21, 1997

The Clone Wars will be seen in the new Star Wars films - but not in the first chapter - or so this scooper's been told by someone involved with the production. The scooper was told of only small, tantalizing ideas; if accurate, they'll be among the first solid concepts the public will have heard about the films. The scooper heard about three other possible plot points:

  • A major plotline involves the fact that only two dark lords can co-exist at one point of time. In the middle trilogy's timeframe, this would be the Emperor and Vader, which the scooper explains is why in Return of the Jedi the Emperor wants Luke to destroy Vader and become the other dark lord (of the Sith, perhaps?)
  • A team of Wookies, possibly mercenaries, were mentioned as characters in the film(s).
  • The individual also claims to have seen video storyboards involving Jawas.

Strangely enough, we're kinda hoping we've been lied to, or the scooper's received erroneous information. If it's all true, we'd hate to see Lucasfilm management come down heavy on the employees. If anyone from ILM/Lucasfilm is reading these words, would it help to say that the information was obtained through nefarious means involving truth-drug serums?

- Scoop sent in by Brian Hader. Comment on this Scoop (0)


 

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