Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a 1999 space opera film written and directed by George Lucas.

It was the fourth film to be released in the Star Wars saga and the first in terms of internal chronology. It was also Lucas' first film as a director in 22 years, and only his fourth overall. The film follows Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, who flee the planet Naboo with Queen Amidala in the hope of finding a peaceful end to a trade dispute. Along the way, the ship must stop for repairs on the planet Tatooine, where the Jedi encounter Anakin Skywalker, a young slave boy who is unusually strong with the Force. Meanwhile, they must contend with the mysterious return of the Sith.

Lucas began production when he felt special effects had advanced to the level of what he had envisioned for the film. Shooting took place during 1997 at various locations including Leavesden Film Studios and the Tunisian desert. Special effects made extensive use of computer-generated imagery, with some characters and scenarios being completely digital.

The Phantom Menace was released in May 19, 1999, almost sixteen years after the previous film in the series, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, and was accompanied by extensive media coverage and great anticipation. Despite mixed reviews by critics, who praised the visuals and action scenes but criticized the writing, characterization and acting, it grossed $924.3 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing Star Wars film and the 9th highest-grossing film of all time. It was the 2nd highest-grossing film of all time after its theatrical run, and was the highest grossing film of 1999.