Released in 1999, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is the first entry in the prequel trilogy. Written and directed by George Lucas, this film tells the origin story of Darth Vader, aka Anakin Skywalker. Boasting an all-star cast which includes Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Natalie Portman, The Phantom Menace had a massive impact on the franchise’s lore, characters, and overall story.
While fans would need to wait six more years to see the famous villain, this film focused on Skywalker as a child and how his journey began. Now available on Disney+, you can stream Star Wars: The Phantom Menace any time you want.
How to Stream Star Wars: The Phantom Menace – Exclusively on Disney+
The Phantom Menace is one of the second trilogy movies that will be streaming exclusively on Disney’s new subscription streaming service, Disney+.
You can sign up for a 7-day free trial of Disney+ HERE, which will allow you to stream The Emperor’s New Groove and hundreds of other movies and shows on your computer, phone, tablet, smart TV or streaming device. If you extend past the free trial, the service costs $6.99/month. You may also opt for this discount bundle of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99/month.
- 1. Sign up for Disney+ here
- 2. Go to Disneyplus.com or download the Disney+ app on your device
- 3. Log in using your information
- 4. Search for “Phantom Menace”
- 5. Start streaming
Disney+ also boasts a vast library of Disney-owned movies and series — plus several new original series coming soon. The service includes unlimited downloads so you can watch offline whenever and wherever you want. The list of compatible devices and smart TVs includes Apple iOS devices, Apple TV, Amazon devices, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Chromecast, Roku, PS4, and Xbox One.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Overview
Release Date: May 19, 1999
Creators: 20th Century Fox, Lucasfilm Ltd.
Director: George Lucas
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd
Synopsis: The Phantom Menace follows two Jedi who discovers a young boy that could be the fabled “Chosen One.” Facing the reemergence of the evil Sith and a new, highly advanced foe, these Jedi must save a planet from falling under the control of the dark side.
How Long Is Star Wars: The Phantom Menace?
Excluding any deleted scenes, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is 2 hours and 16 minutes long. This makes it the shortest film in the prequel trilogy by only a few minutes.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Plot
Set 32 years before the original films, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace follows Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi. After negotiations breakdown with the evil Trade Federation, the duo is forced to escape to the planet Naboo. From there, both Jedi get wrapped up in an upcoming war against the Trade Federation, the reemergence of the Sith, and discovering the “Chosen One.”
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Cast
Unlike the original trilogy, The Phantom Menace was not just cast with a collection of unknown actors. There are a number of big names involved in the prequel films, many of which already had lengthy, established careers. Alongside the main cast, actors Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker returned to reprise their roles as C3-PO and R2-D2.
Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn
Born on the city-planet Coruscant, Qui-Gon Jinn is the Jedi Master who trained Obi-Wan Kenobi. While he only appears in one live-action film, Qui-Gon Jinn has left a lasting impression on the Star Wars franchise. He has appeared in a number of comics, video games, and television shows. In The Phantom Menace, he serves as the main mentor to the protagonists and the first person to recognize Anakin Skywalker’s potential.
During the production of The Phantom Menace, the sets were only built as high as the actor’s heads. Due to Liam Neeson’s height, he cost the crew an extra $150,000 in construction costs. Additionally, the communicator his character used in the film is actually just a redesigned Gillette Sensor Excel Razor.
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the most recognizable characters in the Star War franchise. Originally portrayed by Sir Alec Guinness, actor Ewan McGregor studied many of Guinness’ previous films to get ready for the role. Since this would be a younger version of the character, it was critical that McGregor captured many of the mannerism Guinness added into the character.
McGregor will also be reprising his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in a new series that has yet to enter production. Given the sheer popularity of this character, we expect this to be one of the most anticipated new entries into the Star Wars franchise.
Natalie Portman – Queen Amidala/Padme
Another new, but important character introduced in The Phantom Menace is Padme. The future romantic interest for Anakin Skywalker, Padme not only appears in all three prequel films, but also video games, comics, and The Clone Wars television series. Since Portman is portraying both Queen Amidala and Padme, her voice was digitally enhanced so they would sound different. Since Portman was still high school, she actually had to miss The Phantom’s Menaces premiere because she needed to study for a final.
Jake Lloyd – Anakin Skywalker
Appearing in only one Star Wars film, Jake Lloyd portrays the child version of Anakin Skywalker. Following this film, Lloyd was replaced by Hayden Christensen, since the next two movies take place several years after the events of The Phantom Menace. Unlike his other co-stars who went on to have lengthy careers, Lloyd retired from acting following the poor reception of the film. So far, the only work he’s done is lending his voice to a number of Star Wars video games such as Star Wars: Episode I – Racer.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Soundtrack
Like the previous Star Wars films, iconic composer John Willaims crafted the score for The Phantom Menace. The soundtrack was recorded in Abbey Road Studios featuring the London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices. While there were dozens of songs recorded for the film, the most famous is dubbed the Duel of Fates.
Used during the climactic showdown between Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Darth Maul, the track became an instant classic among Star Wars fans. It has since been used in multiple video games and even briefly appeared in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace at the Box Office
According to IMDB, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace made $64, 820,970 dollars on its opening weekend in the United States alone. Over the course of its US theatrical run, the movie earned $474,544,677 and $1,027,082,707 across the entire world. At the time of its release, The Phantom Menace broke many box office records and had the second-highest opening weekend when it released. The film crossed the one billion mark following the 2012 re-release that gave the movie a 3D facelift.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Spoilers
Since The Phantom Menace released prior to the massive Hollywood craze of implementing post-credit scenes, there aren’t a ton of big spoilers. The only major moment that new viewers may not see coming is the death of Qui-Gon Jinn, who dies during his second battle against Darth Maul.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Reviews – What the Critics Said
While the prequel films still have a dedicated following, The Phantom Menace was savaged by critics upon release. Currently, sitting at a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, reviews cited a plethora of issues with the movie. One of the most frequent was the story’s bland political setting and need to dump tons of exposition on audience members.
There was also heavy criticism of Jake Lloyd’s performance, along with the movie bouncing from set piece to set piece without advancing the overall story. However, critics did praise the visual effects, action sequences, and unique creature designs. The Phantom Menace is still the lowest scored live-action Star Wars film ever made.
Where Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Fits in the Franchise Pantheon
For those unfamiliar with the Star Wars timeline, The Phantom Menace takes place before any of the live-action films. This is the first movie canonically in what is called the “Skywalker Saga.”
Despite there being several novels and video games – many of which are no longer considered canon – taking place beforehand, Disney has yet to produce a film set prior to The Phantom Menace.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Trailer
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Trivia: 5 Fast Facts
Like many Star Wars films, there are quite a few fascinating stories and moments surrounding its creation. Below are five different Easter Eggs, references, and ways the film impacted popular culture.
1. Jake Lloyd Quit Acting After Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Perhaps the most significant fallout following the film’s release was how the movie impacted Jake Lloyd’s career. Still a young boy, Jake explained in an interview that he was constantly bullied by other kids for acting in the film. Lloyd was also disappointed by the film’s reception from fans and critics, which caused him to turn away from acting. Outside of some brief voice-over work, the last movie Lloyd starred in was 2001’s Madison.
2. Steven Spielberg’s E.T. Briefly Appears in the Movie
One cute little Easter Egg in The Phantom Menace is the appearance of E.T. during the Galactic Senate meeting. Keen-eyed viewers can spot the little aliens deliberating in the background for a few seconds before the film cuts away. Since director Steven Speilberg is a close friend of George Lucas, it’s no surprise that he would add a reference to this famous children’s film.
3. Darth Maul Survived Being Cut in Half
Despite being sliced in two by Obi-Wan Kenobi, it was later revealed via the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series that Maul survived his injuries. He made numerous appearances throughout the show, serving as one of the principal characters in the latter season. Maul also showed up at the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story near the end of the movie.
4. People Paid to See the Movie Trailer
With the internet still in its infancy, finding movie trailers proved to be fairly difficult. Because of this, when The Phantom Menace’s first trailer released many theaters reported numerous people paying for a film and then leaving after the trailer was played. Others chose to download the trailer on StarWars.com in either the Quicktime, AVI, or Real Video format.
5. Jabba the Hutt is Listed as “Himself” in the Credits
As one of the few characters from the original trilogy that appeared in The Phantom Menace, Jabba the Hutt is listed in the credits as “himself.” This is because, unlike his appearance in Return of the Jedi, this mob boss alien was entirely CGI. Jabba appears during the podracing scene and kicks off the races.
Previously, Jabba the Hutt was a massive puppet that took several people to bring to life. Not only were his facial features remotely controlled, but someone was actually inside him working the tail.
What Other Star Wars Movies Can You Stream on Disney+?
At the time of writing this, here are all of the Star Wars movies on Disney+:
Episode IV: A New Hope
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Episode VI: Return of the JEDI
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
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