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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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Monday, November 4, 1996

'GWL' feels differently about the mysterious insider who's been submitting scoops. "For each leak from ILM, Lucas reduces the bonuses for ILM. If he were truly from ILM and was smart, he wouldn't be posting." We're not sure about the bonus situation with Lucasfilm, but the scooper claims he knows an individual who works for Lucasfilm, and isn't employed directly by LFL. "Official LFL sources, such as Steve Sansweet, have been touting the new release date as 1999 for quite some time. And let's get real about this -- do you really think that they could have it ready to go by 1998? They haven't even entered final casting stages!" To which we agree. Keeping a project as large and as closely-followed as this one secret until a few months before its release would be impossible. It may be possible to keep the knowledge of a crashed alien saucer secret for fifty years, but the knowledge that the new Star Wars movie is in production? [Scoop thoughts submitted by 'GWL'.]

We're told that after supervising effects work on The Lost World, Dennis Muren will spearhead, along with John Knoll, Joe Letteri and Alex Seiden, the R&D effort to develop the final software advances for the first prequel. Mark Dippe and Steve Williams, once they're free from the Spawn project, will also join the effort. Locations are locked in for Tunisia and are currently being planned for Portugal, the scooper tells us, and a second draft is currently nearing completion written by Frank Darabont. Carrie Fisher is planning to contribute an uncredited "polish" to strengthen female characterizations. Costume Designer Peggy Farrell is in the ongoing process of designing costumes in concert with prequel Art Director Doug Chiang. Working with the art staff in construction of sets in England is Gavin Bocquet. The schedule is shaping up and it looks like the second unit and plate photography is to commence in July or August of '97; principal photography is to begin the following October or November, with completion forcasted for February '98. [Scoop hologram sent in by an anonymous R2 unit.]

Remember the scoop from a 'bennett' up there? This fellow was reading an article in the Australian magazine Who; a small one-column feature on stars in Australia at the moment mentioned the actor who played Boba Fett (Jeremy Bullock). The actor declined an interview because he was "busy getting into role for a private project". This quote has put the 'Who' crew through the law courts before you can say "Star Wars Secret Sequel", and they now decline any further comment on the matter. A hushed up brouhaha? Methinks it to be so. If not, can someone tell me why these two seperate facts are connected then?" Maybe a secret Ewok tryst? [Sharp-eyed scoop credit is given to Bede Ronzani.]

And another scooper tells us that, "True, Frank Darabont is signed to write on the prequels, but negotiations were done through Rick McCallum, not Lucas, and Darabont has been waiting to hear back from them concerning when to start work, but he has been waiting for months now and is not going to keep his calendar clear if other projects come along. This info is straight from the source." [This info submitted anonymously.]

- Various. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Sunday, November 3, 1996

An interesting hypothesis arrives in our letter box from a Star Wars aficionado that directly relates to the October 31st scoop from 'Bennett'. We'll let the scooper explain:

"Dreadnaut ships come from Timothy Zahn's Star Wars novel, Dark Force Rising, and have since been featured in TIE Fighter Deluxe Collectors CD from LucasArts. The backstory is that they were often slave-linked (I believe in that reference, as in ships being linked together) and were around about the time the prequels would be occuring. They were captial ships, kind of like slightly deadlier Corvettes (i.e. Tantive IV).

"Which brings up an interesting question, are the 'slave quarters' alluded to by Rick McCallum in Star Wars Insider as possibly being shot in the Tunisia Ksour region, directly linked to the Mandalore and that SLAVE I, Boba Fett's ship, might be a direct reference to slave trade? There are literally dozens of ways Lucas could go with that (were Mandalore slave traders in addition to warriors? Or were Mandalore and or clones, themselves slaves of some kind?)"

If so, Lucas is tying together oblique references and names from both the movies and the book series to create an overall tapestry. If Mandalore were associated with the Clone Wars and slaving, Fett's ship designation takes on a much more deeper meaning.

- Scoop reported by Brent Lynch. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Sunday, November 3, 1996

A person who works with a 'large computer/video game company' knows of an associate working for Lucasarts. After the associate's work on the computer game Jedi Knight has been completed, the person is to begin work immediately on a new Star Wars game. He was shown pictures of "new spaceship designs from the forthcoming movie in a 'polished' form. Top/front/left designs were already done, allowing the programmers to work on 3D models for the forthcoming game. Which points to the fact, that most if not all the ships are done." This meeting the scooper had took place during the E3 convention this past May.

- Scoop submitted by 'TBRO'. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Sunday, November 3, 1996

Someone who "has a very good friend at Lucasfilm who knows some people in casting" heard that one of the actors the scouts are looking at is a Jeremy Northam. Northam apparently starred as Knightley in the recent version of Emma but is better known for his role as Sandra Bullock's adversary in The Net.

- Scoop sent in anonymously. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Thursday, October 31, 1996

A 'friend' who works in ILM tells this fellow that Boba Fett will show up in the first show as a Mandalore Warrior. The ILM source told the friend that Fett is the only survivor of the infamous group in the aftermath of a battle between Fett's group and the Jedis. On top of that, they report that the start of the film will showcases a major space battle that will introduces both Old Republic spaceships and Clone Warrior ships called 'Dreadnauts'. Of course, for this type of information to be accurate and find its way to our page, the fellow's source would have to be a Bothan to get around Lucas security - keep that in mind, fellow Jedis.

And the mysterious scooper that has been providing Episode 1 rumors claiming they are coming from within Lucasfilm writes again. The scooper's source informs them that internal Lucasfilm documents suggest that at least a small handful of roles have either already been cast or are nearing the final stages of the selection process. No names were given by the source. Additionally, the source was emphatic this time about the release date for episode 1 being summer 1998. "100% sure," were the source's exact words, the scooper says.

- First scoop reported by 'bennett'; second scoop submitted anonymously. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Tuesday, October 29, 1996

'GWL' writes in to inform us that the Jedi Holocron novel, to be written by Kevin J. Anderson, will be out in early 1999. The Star Wars Encyclopedia will be out a tad earlier, either in 1998 or 1999. Neither tome will reveal any information about the forthcoming trilogy.

- Scoop handed in by "GWL'. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Tuesday, October 22, 1996

Someone rummaging through David Fincher's old garbage found a list of credits on one of his old resumes while working at ILM:

1.Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) (matte photography) 2.Return of the Jedi (1983) (assistant cameraman - miniature and optical effects unit) ... aka Star Wars: Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (1983) 3.Twice Upon a Time (1983) (special photographic effects)

One scooper elaborates in further detail: "Although Fincher was indeed under twenty years of age, it is not uncommon. Ken Ralston worked as an Effects Cameraman for Cascade Pictures in the early 70's at the age of 17. He was just over twenty when he joined ILM in 1975; on Star Wars he served as an Assistant Cameraman." This makes those of us assigned to paper routes at that age feel no better.

- Scoop info reported by Diane, anonymous sources, and Robert Brooks. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Tuesday, October 15, 1996

"Two things: While standing in a check-out line, I picked up a copy of the dreadful US magazine to pass the time. As I flipped through it, I saw a little article on Bijou Phillips. Remembering the Star Wars casting rumors, I scanned through it, and lo and behold, in the last paragraph it said 'he's up for the role of Luke Skywalker's mother in the upcoming Star Wars prequel'. Wow! I guess the Bijou rumor has some validity after all. And second, although I believe the rumor to be false, David Fincher got his first screen credit working on second unit stuff for Return of the Jedi." [Scoop reported by Diane.]

Hmm. To the best of the recollection of the Director of CA, Fincher was 27 when he helmed ALIEN 3. He did have a more-or-less wunderchilde career earlier, but if Fincher was involved with the filming of ROTJ, he'd have to be somewhere around 16 or 17 years old. Of course, this is just recollection of magazine articles remembered - and others out there may have a better (and more on-line) database than his.

And some emails have been arriving in the mailroom saying that Sansweet has denied the Bijou casting - but again, it hasn't been official.

Comment on this Scoop (0)
Monday, October 14, 1996

"Not that I have any great faith in all this 1998 talk, but the LucasArts Adventurer for summer 1996 which was just packed in with last week's release of THE LUCASARTS ARCHIVES VOLUME II: THE STAR WARS COLLECTION mentions in its company section:

"(Note: There is a hefty lead time for catalogs so it's quite likely a change to 99' couldn't be worked in on time.)

"'IT'S A LUCASFILM FACT: Master filmmaker George Lucas is currently penning the next three Star Wars motion picture installments. He hopes the first new film will be in theaters in 1998' Also quoting just below '(1-800-98-LUCAS, get it?)' That number is LucasArts U.S. Company Store Order Line.

"Also, It would stand to reason, that if this whole prequel trailer on ROTJ:SE rumor is credible, Fox would make the annoucement to press before ROTJ:SE's release of having the rights to Episode I (NO movie studio attaches trailers for another studio's movies to its own films, although most theater managers can put unattached trailers with anything they so please.)

"Also: Natalie Portman, Miramax's Supporting Actress Oscar hopeful (re: Beautiful Girls) has confirmed in at least one Everybody Says I Love You press junket interview, that she, as has been rumored, had been part of the narrow group auditions for two teen female roles in the first prequel. These have been taking place as recently as early September."

- Scoop reported by Brent Lynch, mole within the Empire. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Tuesday, October 8, 1996

'Deep Throat LFL' returns:

"Hello again. Just another juicy tidbit from source at lfl: Lucas and director David Fincher apparently had lunch together the other day at Lucas' ranch. While the subject of the conversation is not known, this would seem to be more than coincidence considering that just days before Lucas had reportedly mentioned Fincher's name as a possible director for one of the later installments. Again, though, it is unlikely any decision will be finalized at least until late next year. The source adds that Lucas may have quickly gotten over his jam about how to preserve continuity and suspense throughout all six films (i.e. how to keep Darth Vader's identity a secret), as he has mentioned that the final plot outlines for eps. 2 and 3 are done, and that he will work on the screenplays from now through production of ep.1 and beyond. Designs and effects for the next 2 films should begin soon. The source reaffirms his belief that ep. 1 should be in theatres on memorial day weekend 1998, not 1999 as has been announced."

Whether it's for real or not, the Fincher rumor is an interesting one, and he would certainly make a gritty second chapter - akin to what Irvin Kershner did for The Empire Strikes Back. But the real question remains: what did Lucas and Fincher eat at lunch?

And others comment on the mysterious scooper's October 6th 'force' message. We took the message as the scooper talking about The Force as the unknown 'force'. Upon posting that, we've received comments from the readers of CA who take the comment differently. We've re-read the original scoop, and we can now see that it can be taken that way. Of course, the original writer wrote to us about it:

"Hello again. Just one correction that I think needs to be made in relation to my first message--"the force" which Anakin and Kenobi are supposed to be unaware of is not THE Force but merely the force or cause that instigates their going on a special secret mission, during the course of which they have their first outright confrontation with one another. If there was some confusion, I apologize for not being clearer. And be assured there is no attempt at deception on my part: if any of this is untrue, then I'm the one being jerked around by my contact at lfl. Most recently, I inquired about the possibilty of the "mission" in ep. 2 having to do with the fabled Kaibur crystal which has appeared in several sources, including the early drafts of ep.4. The outline for ep.2 is not that specific, but it ceratinly leaves open that possibility. This might make even more sense, if one considers the overall plot: Anakin and Kenobi are sent on this mission for reasons they are not aware of, and as a result of this mission, they will come into direct conflict with one another. A powerful Force-user like the emperor would probably know about a force artifact like the crystal, and could engineer this mission so that young, vulnerable Anakin could come into possesion of it and, overcome with its feeling of power, turn against his master and toward "the Dark Side." This is speculative, but makes a lot of sense. Nothing will be certain until Lucas hammers out the ep. 2 script over the next year and a half, though. That's all that is new, but I might add that the source, when I asked again about this subject, insisted that all the internal signs regarding the pace and schedule for pre-production, casting, filming, and editing, point toward a summer 1998 release, not 1999, as has been reported." [Scoop reported anonymously.]

Keep your ear open, and watch out for assassin droids. Also, this regular contributor had this to add:

"Apparantly, right before the release of SW: Genesis, Del Rey was going to publish the Star Wars Encyclopedia. This was to be the history of the Star Wars universe from Episode IV to the last book published, which is also known. It was to be written as a Holocron document that Luke was creating and was to be a coffee table edition like the Illustrated SW Universe was. I wonder now if this has been scrapped given Lucas' rumored interest in a Journal of the Whills, or if that's how this rumor started.

"Finally, given what we know from Lucas' own statements about what the saga is all about, many of the plot points that this scooper has presented make sense, the most notable example is the Ben Kenobi redemption idea. Remember that every major 'good' character has been redeemed in some way in the Star Wars Universe. Lando, Han, Luke, Anakin...only Leia hasn't been redeemed in some way. We have already seen Ben's redemption in Luke Skywalker. He trained made right by bringing up Luke, who was able to redeem Anakin. I would put a lot of faith into many of the ideas presented in this post. They seem more than reasonable, they seem logical and fitting given Lucas' 'vision' for the saga." [Scoop sent in by 'imho'.]

And last but not least (but certain to cause even more mail)...

"There's some speculation in my neck of the woods that almost all of the rumors concerning this film are false, except for the very oldest ones. Lucasfilm may be setting up a kind of smoke screen to distract fans and preserve the surprise. So, I've heard, the oldest news is the real dope: May 1998 is in fact the release date, and principal photography is happening RIGHT NOW in Leavesdon, England. That's apparently why the next James Bond film has been delayed (Star Wars is shooting in its studio) and why Lucas isn't involved with The Lost World. Balance of the Force is the title of the first film, and Kenneth Branagh is playing a young Jedi Knight. Trust the first news out of the gate!! A trailer for Episode 1 will appear in front of Return of the Jedi Special Edition, and the film will indeed premier in summer of 1998, as anounced long ago. At least, those are the freshest rumors ..." [Scoop sent in anonymously.]

Yikes. March, 1997 will decide if this last rumor is bogus or not...

Comment on this Scoop (0)
Sunday, October 6, 1996

For those interested in gossip that cannot be proven, we present these scoop informants. A heavy rumor warning is in effect; please roll up your car windows and extinguish all open flames...

"The following information has been passed on by a lfl source who, for obvious reasons, wishes to remain anonymous. The release title of the first film is still up in the air, although many of the alleged titles that have been circling have been bandied about. (SW:Genesis) is the working title. Red Tails is a REAL project, but some work for the first prequel (presumably that which deals with plot twists and key scenes that only lucas is privy to as yet) will be done secretly under the guise of being for Red Tails. The prevalence of the RT rumor, though, may lead to scuttling those plans. What is virtually certain is the timeframe of the films, which Lucas has bobbled someone in the press. The first film takes place roughly thirty years before SW:Episode 4, the second episode takes place roughly eight to ten years later, and the third film takes place a relatively short time thereafter (this dating is the product of character descriptions that deal with their appearances and apparent ages).

The only ACTORS who are almost certain to appear in all three new films are those who play Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Emperor (the Emperor, it seems, may not go by the name of Palpatine at first, and it may not be clear, even to fans, who the Emperor is, or will be, among the characters of the first film.) This MAY be one of Lucas intended surprises for the second installment, a la the Darth Vader revelation in Episode 5. Furthermore, Lucas is in fact settled on using a revised, more fully functional version of Boba Fett's armor in the first film for the warriors whom Kenobi, the Jedi, and eventually Anakin Skywalker will conquer in the Clone Wars. (Note: 'Clone Wars' will almost certainly NOT be the title for the first film.) The two droids have indeed been re-tooled, and although Lucas has made a big deal about their being the only characters involved in every installment of the eventual nonology, their roles are reportedly neither crucial nor forced--they function in much the same way as they did in Eps. 4-6. Speaking of the nonology, Lucas, while without concrete plans, expects to begin expanding his (very sketchy) outlines, barring unforseen disaster, some seven years or so after the last of this trilogy is released--which would place the release of ep. 7 sometime around 2010.

Finally, the following plot sketch is as much as could be offered: ep. 1: Kenobi, depicted in a light somewhat similar to that of Luke in ep.'s 4 and 5, is a restless jedi knight who becomes infatuated with the boy Anakin and undertakes to take him under his wing. The film focuses very much on their close relationship, and they eventually team to help end the Mandalore threat. Yoda makes a brief appearance, and is defied by his pupil Kenobi. The film is cast as a dark counterpart to ep. 4, with much of the rousing spaceadventure colored by dark foreshadowing of what lies ahead. Ep. 2 begins to bring the disintegration of the Republic to the forefront, and Kenobi and Skywalker are re-teamed on a mission whose success may help restore order to the galaxy. The film parallels Ep.5 and ends ambiguously, the 'mission' devolving into the first confrontation between Kenobi and Skywalker, instigated by an as-yet unknown force. Finally, Ep. 3, which is as yet not as fully developed as 2 and certainly not as much as the drafted Episode 1, will introduce Vader, the Emperor, and Boba Fett, and climax with the safe escape of Anakin's child(ren) from Imperial forces.The source refuses to disclose more, for fear not only of his job security but also of ruining a potentially great experience for many. He assures that what is conveyed above does not even begin to hint at the fullness of the experience that fans should experience come 1999. Lucas, it has been revealed, has deliberately added fuel to the fire of many rumors which, even when true, he considers dreadfully obvious 'revelations,' and he intends to really defy the expectations of both die-hard and casual fans, as well as complete neophytes. The one major sticking point, I might add, is the middle ground between eps. 2 and 3. Lucas is considering possible ways he can preserve continuity in the series by keeping the origins of Vader a mystery--that is, to not ruin the Vader revelation in Ep. 5 for new fans who Lucas wants to experience the eventual nonology sequentially. The Leia/Luke connnection is apparently not as great a concern."

What Rumor Control has to say: The scoop informant hints that a young Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker do not know of "the Force", which doesn't correspond with what we already know about the Force. Yoda knew of it; the Jedi Knights from Kenobi's youth knew of it; the comic books and novels have character who wield it thousands of years before Luke Skywalker's time. It doesn't seem like Lucas to just simply forget about this, does it?

- Scoop submitted anonymously. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Friday, September 27, 1996

An anonymous letter informs that half of the scenes for the first film involve full digital sets. As well, the scooper adds that the senior ILM staff have been given "information" as to what appears in the first script, and that Lucas announced his intention to direct the first film to insiders at his company last week.

- Scoop submitted anonymously. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Thursday, September 26, 1996

George Lucas has decided to commit to directing and producing the first chapter of Star Wars. According to material published in the daily Hollywood Reporter magazine, Lucas plans to return to the director's chair for the first time in twenty years (he directed the original 1977 Star Wars: A New Hope film.) Selected insiders at Lucasfilm are reportedly going over the script for the first film, and one strong rumor points out that there will be extensive use of CGI for some of the characters (leading one individual to claim it was almost an "animated" movie.) Also hinted at was that the focus of the first movie may be on providing background for the characters, their backgrounds and family structures. 20th Century Fox is reported to have first crack at landing the white-hot distribution rights for the new trilogy.

- Scoop provided anonymously and by 'wvh', 'Majestic', Gabe Gordon, 'shape', Christian, 'cjerzew1' and 'bmoshe'. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Tuesday, September 24, 1996

This fellow's 'friend of a friend' allegedly told him the 'inside' details concerning the new trilogy. Although the official title for the first episode has not been chosen, the working titled used inside Lucasfilm is 'Children of the Force'. The opening sequence is said to show a massive space battle, resulting in a devastating loss for the forces of good. The scooper mentioned that Lucas wants to cast Canadian actor Stephen Arcand as a young Ben Kenobi and a recognizable star for the role of the Emperor. A new Jedi Knight character, called 'Pundaï Karel', will be played by an unknown young actor, possibly named Carl Matthiew or Mathieu. Finally, the anonymous letter-writer said that there are drawings of characters that put Boba Fett to shame.

This scoop was delivered anonymously, and readers are reminded of the flock of rumors that have appeared concerning the next James Bond picture, to the point of scoop submissions claiming that certain lesser-known actors had landed key character roles. And besides, why would the first picture be subtitled 'Children of the Force'? The last we heard, Anakin Skywalker wasn't going to have his children born in the first episode. Something doesn't smell right with this rumor.

- Anonymous. Comment on this Scoop (0)
Sunday, September 22, 1996

Today's scooper reports that a copyright taken out for a Blue Harvest 2 may have turned out to be false. This scooper telnetted the United States Government Copyright computer and found no listing for Blue Harvest 2 or Red Tails. The title Blue Harvest did come back with a working title for one of the Ewoks cartoon series back in the mid-80s.

- Thanks to mwhitney. Comment on this Scoop (0)


 

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