STAR WARS: EPISODE 1 - THE PHANTOM MENACE was officially announced as the title to the prequel on the Official Website on 9/25/98.
Star Wars: Episode I - The Beginning was the working title of the first prequel film. (Source Star Wars Insider #32, and various other official documents). For International Release Dates, visit www.starwars.com at the page linked.
Episode I will be opening in the U.S. and Canada on May 21, 1999. The films will be distributed by 20th Century Fox. (Various official sources.) According to the Star Wars Insider #41, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with credits.
Other rumored titles for Episode I have been; most notably Balance of the Force, Genesis, Children of the Force, Guardians of the Force, Crusaders of the Force. Early in the films production, it may have been going by the name Red Tails, possibly a phantom project about by LFL to mask the true nature of the production.
Lincoln of countingdown.com has an inside source at the Chinese Mann Theater relayed a direct quote coming from George Lucas to the management of Mann Corporate, "I opened my first Star Wars movie there in 1977 and I feel it would be proper for my new Star Wars movie to open up in the theater that started it all: THE MANN's Chinese Theater." The premiere is set to take place in the first week in May by invitation only. Obviously this was virtually a given, but here is some confirmation.
We've received more helpful emails from abroad regarding the TPM trailer and movie. First off, while most Australian readers have said that "The Phantom Menace" was missing from the Episode 1 logo, one (I've lost his name, unfortunately) reported that he did see it. Also, Paul Vinter reports that the Episode 1 logo in Japan does include "The Phantom Menace", but the text is not translated in the subtitle below. It may be that the earlier cuts of the trailer had the title, while later versions did not.
We've had some UK readers check in just after seeing the Episode 1 trailer in their local theaters. They report that the phrase 'The Phantom Menace' was left off of the Episode 1 logo in the trailers showing there. If it were another country, I'd blame it on the translation difficulties. As it is, it's some ammunition for the nearly silenced title conspirists out there. :) (The same thing has been reported out of Australia.)
Reader Darren Bell shared his feeling that he was at a real Hollywood movie premiere with every TV and newspaper crew covering the event. The president of Fox UK was in attendance at this particular showing and he publicly announced the July 16th release date.
8:30 am CST
Finally, we're hearing talk of advance screenings of Episode 1 POSSIBLY happening up to a week before the film's national US release. This is just a rumor at this point, but we'll let you know as we get more info.
12:00 pm CST
We've received word from a source that LucasArts employees were able to watch the completed Episode 1 trailer not just once, but twice during a company-wide meeting yesterday. And the big news, according to our source, is that title "The Phantom Menace" is indeed used in the trailer!
We've also been told that the trailer was just finished on Wednesday, making the LucasArts employees among the first to see the finished product.
11:30 am CST
You guys remember the title graphic below? Many of you were skeptical about it, making good points such as the fact that there's a "tm" after the logo, which you wouldn't see on a trailer. Also, you pointed out that it had a "1", not a Roman numeral "I". Well, we got more details on it from our informant. They said that that logo was faxed all over the world. Lucasfilm asked them to translate the logo into the language of their country, then send the translation back to them. Our informants theory is that it will be marketed overseas in the trailers initially as "Star Wars Episode 1" to avoid confusion, then as "The Phantom Menace" later on. So the graphic wasn't from the trailer itself, but it was the fax used for translation. So there ya have it!
11:30 am CST
One of our informants sent this in. Is it the title graphic from the trailer we've heard about? Here's what our informant has to say:
Is this the end of the "what's the title?" debate? Have a look at the attached picture. This is the final version of the title card that now appears at the end of the 2 minute prequel trailer (the "primitive" lettering one was obviously preliminary). Does it mean that the title will not be "The Phantom Menace" after all? Does it mean that George wants to keep his secrets until the last moment? That's for you to decide...
Hmmmm. What do you think?
12:30 pm PST
Although the name "The Phantom Menace" has been confirmed by representatives at every level of the LFL/Fox heirarchy, rumour and speculation on the validity of this title have abounded.
However, we received some further conformation of the TPM title today through Andrew Johnston of Time Out New York:
The title "Star Wars Episode One-The Phantom Menace" appears on the Exhibitor Relations Co. release schedule, the primary index for theater owners of forthcoming movies and release dates....
So it would seem that Fox is actively using that title now.
12:49 PM CST
Expect to see "mainstream" media picking up on this title very soon. So far, Reuters news service posted a brief story, as did Hollywood Wire and we know of some others in the works. Please let us know if you catch 'The Phantom Menace' anywhere else.
A number of new 'Phantom Menace' domain name variations involving dashes and the .net suffix are now pointing to the official site. For a complete list of domain names registered to Lucasfilm, follow this InterNIC whois query.
Aside from the obvious similarity to the X-Wing comic arc, 'The Phantom Affair', a number of readers have pointed out other possible inspirations for this title. Possibly the most interesting came from "Sith" (and others) regarding 'The Phantom Detective' novel series from the 1930s. Titles in this series included: "The Phantom Strikes Back", "Crimson Harvest", "Torch of Doom", "The Radio Murders" and "The Scarlet Menace". These titles should sound very familiar to most Star Wars/Lucasfilm fans.
We also received a report that a villain in the comic 'The Flash #91' was named Phantom Menace. If anyone has any details on this, we'd love to hear it.
2:39 AM CST
I don't know about you, but my (Ghent) first reaction after seeing the title 'The Phantom Menace' (after squinting at it for a few seconds and saying it aloud twice) was to search InterNIC to see if the domain names were registered. Searches on a few different DNSs turned up nothing. Well, it's a few hours later and typing the URLs thephantommenace.com, thephantommenace.org, phantommenace.com and phantommenace.org all point to the official site. The .net variations don't work yet, but I assume it's just slow DNS propagation. (Thanks to the many readers who pointed this out, along with the official announcement.)
TFN's Rod whipped up a graphic showing the title as it will appear in the opening crawl. I think it will grow on us.
4:55 PM CST
The official sitehas finally announced the title of Episode I!! According to the site, "George Lucas has decided to name the new movie "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace." As announced earlier, the new movie will appear in theaters in the United States and Canada on May 21st, 1999."
Cool!! Looks like it's time for all of you poster artists to get cracking again! Let us know what you come up with...
Finally, Diego Galindo sent this in from The UK Sunday Times:
But McGregor had no problem committing to George Lucas's blockbuster Battle of the Force, the first installment in a three-film set of prequels to the Star Wars movies, all of which McGregor is signed up for. His fee for the film is a rumored $4m together with a percentage of the film's eventual gross. "I don't see Star Wars as being of or about Hollywood," he says. "I think it pretty much exists in a world of its own."
Ummmm, "Battle of the Force"? Man, throw yet another rumored title in the mess. Where do they get this stuff? From those crazy Star Wars sites on the net? Wait a sec. Errr...move along. Move along.
The Star Wars panels at this year's San Diego ComicCon were very quiet on prequel news, but attendee Mercerton let us know that Steve Sansweet said there would be "no trailer until the end of the year". Does that rule out all 1998 releases or might that mean late 1998 (like the upcoming Star Trek film)? We'll have to see... (For the full ComicCon report on literature news and Biggs footage, check our comics section.)
Throw yet another title into the growing stack of rumors. The following comes courtesy of ZENtertainment. " STAR WARS rumors are a dime a dozen, and the following is
totally unconfirmed, but my sources tell me the "official"
tentative title of the film is STAR WARS EPISODE I: HOPE
THE FUTURE, which I think ties in nicely with A NEW
I'm told HOPE will be announced via the official STAR WARS
site next month, as will a whole mess of new images from
the film. A two-minute trailer before this Thanksgiving's
STAR TREK: INSURRECTION is also expected."
Personally, we wouldn't put money on this particular one. Which do you think is best? Discuss it in the Jedi Council Forums.
Throw yet another title into the growing stack of rumors. The following comes courtesy of ZENtertainment.
" STAR WARS rumors are a dime a dozen, and the following is totally unconfirmed, but my sources tell me the "official" tentative title of the film is STAR WARS EPISODE I: HOPE FOR THE FUTURE, which I think ties in nicely with A NEW HOPE... I'm told HOPE will be announced via the official STAR WARS site next month, as will a whole mess of new images from the film. A two-minute trailer before this Thanksgiving's STAR TREK: INSURRECTION is also expected."
Personally, we wouldn't put money on this particular one. Which do you think is best? Discuss it in the Jedi Council Forums.
The official site news confirms that one last round of reshoots are underway to fill in additional shot or angles needed for the film. The new shots will fill in for animatics and drawings used as placeholders as Lucas and Smith edited the film. McCallum has scheduled one week for these pick-ups.
Also announced is that Episode I will officially hit theaters in the United States and Canada on May 21st, 1999. Fox will place the film on the industry release schedule on Monday. Almost more interesting is the stated release strategy of quality theatres versus quantity. It looks like it might be just that much harder for all of us to see the film opening day.
Next up, David Morgan-Mar was wondering when Episode 1 would open in Australia, so he did the logical thing. He called up Fox. Here's what they told him:
I found a web page on the site of the largest cinema chain here, which had a list of forthcoming Australian movie release dates extending out to December 1999(!!). However, the Star Wars prequel appears nowhere in the list. :-( The page is at http://www.hoyts.com.au/hoytsguide.html if you are interested to see it.
Thinking that list might be a bit incomplete, I also did a bit of phone research, calling the cinema chain and the local Fox Studios office. The cinemas had no idea when the Australian release date would be, and the (cheery and helpful) person I spoke to at Fox said (and I quote): "I have a list here of the releases for the next 12 months, and the Star Wars movie is nowhere to be seen. I think you should try calling us again in about six months." If that Fox release list is complete, I guess it means that we poor Aussies won't be seeing the film before August 1999.
I'm not giving much credence to the "ask us in six months" line, but if this person actually knows something then that would push the release date into 2000! My best guess is that the Australian release will be timed to coincide with a set of school holidays a few months after the US release, making it most likely a late September 1999 release, or possibly December (ack!) if they opt for the summer holidays.
We agree with David. The person at Fox probably simply didn't have the info yet. It's most definitely going to be in Australia in 1999, no doubt about it. So why post this? Well, maybe some more of you have been getting the same answer and are freaking out. :) Plus, maybe it will get Fox and Lucasfilm to hurry up and let our fellow Star Wars fans overseas know when they'll get to join in the fun! Who knows, maybe they have something special planned!
We've got some more titles you can throw into the pile of rumors. What do we think of them? Well, it's kind of hard to say. None of them sound QUITE right. Who knows. If they aren't real, at least we warned you. If they are real, you heard it here first. :) Just kidding. Anyway, we checked with Internic for these domain names and none of them popped up except for "fightforfreedom.com". It also happened to be registered by someone anonymously. Curious, eh? However, one of our members called the anonymous owner and he was just a guy that bought it to start an anti-spam site. Just a dead end. BTW, he offered to sell it for $500 if you're interested. :)
"Star Wars: Quest For Hope"
"Star Wars: Fight For Freedom"
"Star Wars: Center of the Force"
We've got some more titles you can throw into the pile of rumors."Star Wars: The Beginning"
What do we think of them? Well, it's kind of hard to say. None of them sound QUITE right. Who knows. If they aren't real, at least we warned you. If they are real, you heard it here first. :) Just kidding. Anyway, we checked with Internic for these domain names and none of them popped up except for "fightforfreedom.com". It also happened to be registered by someone anonymously. Curious, eh? However, one of our members called the anonymous owner and he was just a guy that bought it to start an anti-spam site. Just a dead end. BTW, he offered to sell it for $500 if you're interested. :)
Well, some possible bad news for those of you who don't live in North America and were hoping for a worldwide Episode 1 release in May, 1999. One of our readers from New Zealand reports that the theatre managers there have been told that it will be released there in August 1999 at the earliest.
As anyone in the film business will tell you, it will be a huge feat if LucasFilm can pull off a simultaneous worldwide release. However, if they perfect digital film transfer techniques by the time Episode 3 rolls around (as they are hoping to do), that could all change.
This amusing piece of news comes from the source of "all things Hollywood", Variety. If you've ever wondered what competition Star Wars: Episode One will be facing at the box office on May 25, 1999, well.... we may have an answer. Believe it or not, it could be Beavis and Butt-head.
Now, the game of positioning their films begins for other studios. For instance, Paramount Pictures is rumored to be considering next Memorial Day for its "Beavis & Butt-head" sequel. If so, it would go up against George Lucas' "Star Wars: Episode One," the long-anticipated prequel to the "Star Wars" trilogy, from Fox.
For the summer of '99, other films that may be positioned close to Episode One include Wild Wild West, Planet Ice, The Thomas Crown Affair, The General's Daughter and Disney's Tarzan.
Tinman, 10:20am PDT
Reader "Cottman" wrote in with some interesting news. Can't confirm or deny it though.
"A guy at work told me that he was talking to someone that works at one of the movie theaters in town and he said that they are not 100% sure that the trailer was going to be on the X-Files, but that they had a talk with a distributor or something and were told that they won't find out until they receive the film on the 18th."
Cottman's friend also said that "theaters should be prepared for 1/3 of the people either going to The X-Files or the theater in general (not sure) to be there for the Prequel Trailer."
5/31/98: TEASER TRAILER MENTION ON FOX NEWS
Thanks to readers "Sith Sunstorm", and "LordTons" for pointing out this bit of news! Yesterday on the Fox News Channel show "Fox on Entertainment" a brief mention was made of the "Plot Does Matter" web one-sheet that was posted by the Official Star Wars Web Site. Well, at the conclusion of this report anchor man Bill Cuddy offered his own commentary about how Episode I must live up to the hype that will surely precede it. He went on to say that we will begin to see evidence of this when the Star Wars teaser trailer appears in front of The X-Files movie. This is worthy of note since it was reported by an entity owned by 20th Century Fox. Was Mr. Cuddy simply repeating what he had heard around the office, or what he has read on web sites like ours? It's doubtful that this was some sort of official announcement due to it's relatively low profile. At press time Fox News was unavailable for comment, but we hope to receive clarification soon. Stay tuned to TheForce.net for more!
5/29/98: TITLE RUMOR
Well, our buddy Mode checked in again. Apparently there is a lot of talk going on among the employees of the Lucasfilm empire regarding the name of the first prequel movie. Currently, there are two titles being overheard on a regular basis, Star Wars: The Jedi Knights and Star Wars: The Jedi Masters. Whether that's just employee speculation or not isn't known, but we'll keep you posted!.
5/22/98: TRAILER NEWS FROM A FOX EXEC?
In a recent update to Ain't It Cool News, Harry Knowles reports that a reader of his site spoke with Fox executive Bill Mechanic at the Cannes Film Festival. While TheForce.net cannot vouch for the accuracy of this report we will present it for your consumption. Here's what Bill reportedly had to say regarding Star Wars: Episode I in his Q&A with Harry's source "Liam":
Most importantly: No, there will not be a trailer running in front of The X-Files.
Q: ...does the film have a title yet?
A: No, it's still Episode I.
Q: How about Balance of the Force? That would be a great title!
A: Well, George thought of calling it The Beginning but he knows that's not good.
Q: ...who's gonna direct number 2 and 3?
A: We'll see if George wants to direct them after we finish this one.
Q: ...what does this one look like?
A: It's different and it feels good to see characters you already know. He already saw an half an hour of it.
That certainly is interesting stuff from Harry. As for the trailer, we'll see what comes to pass soon enough. 20th Century Fox Corporate Communications and Lucasfilm continue to decline to comment officially, so continue to listen carefully to these unofficial reports. Stay tuned!
5/20/98: MORE TRAILER RUMORS
The following comes from a reliable source.....as far as we can tell. As you can see, it's similar to reports we've seen elsewhere (like AICN). TheForce.net cannot attest to it's accuracy, but we thought it was worth mentioning just in case it IS on target. Please note that this should all be considered rumor until more confirmations come in. Here's the scoop:
"Fox will debut the posters and the name of at least the first film on June 15th. The trailer will be premiered on Entertainment Tonight that night, and will definitely be attached to the X-Files: Fight the Future on the 19th. It will feature shots of each of the principal actors in character, and a few CGI shots of Coruscant, and a tagline to the effect of "The Force Returns next Memorial Day..." that's about all I know, but it is a done deal as far as I'm told. The PR agency is already going full bore on the campaign, so I'd be shocked if this stuff didn't pan out soon."
While it's fairly certain that the trailer will first appear before a 20th Century Fox release, we can't be sure it'll be this Summer. Lucasfilm is very adamant about keeping the Episode I hype to a minimum for the time being. They really would rather not start promoting this event until the Fall of this year. Lucas has stated on two occasions that the trailer for Episode I wouldn't appear until the Fall/Winter of this year. At the Smithsonian tribute last October, he stated that we wouldn't see a trailer until, "around this time next year.", and in the Star Wars Insider he gave the date December 1998. As much as Fox would probably love to put a trailer in front of X-Files, I'm inclined to think that Lucas might not give in to their wishes. Then again, he may reconsider since Fox doesn't have any really big box office draws in the last quarter of the year. Only time will tell my friends. Stay tuned!
4/20/98: TRAILER SPECULATION
Huntsman had a little info to add to the Episode 1 Trailer speculation. Here's his report (also seen on Ain't It Cool News today, so skip if you've read it):
" Huntsman here, with this to report. A friend of mine just returned from the X-Files Expo held here in Chicago this weekend (Apr.18-19th). Being a faithful spy, and sent with a mission from me, she asked the director of the X-Files movie during a Q&A whether an Ep.1 trailer would run in front of the X-Files movie when it opens in June. His answer was that he could neither confirm nor deny rumors that this would take place. How's THAT for an emphatic "maybe"? At least this is the first official (that I know of) if not confirmation, at least a lack of willingness to deny plans to run a prequel trailer this June. If that's not exciting, I don't know what is! ;)"
We honestly haven't heard any news on the trailer, official or otherwise. I would imagine that Twentieth Century Fox is itching to start the promos, so if it were up to them I'd expect they'd do it soon. But this seems to be The Flanneled One's call, so who knows what will happen. For good trailer coverage, I'd recommend stopping by Prequel Watch.
1/03/98: IT'S NOW OFFICIAL, FOX GETS THE PREQUELS
Yes, if you've visited starwars.com during the last few hours, you'll see an announcement of what we, AICN, and JediNet have suspected for some time now: Fox is the distributor for the Prequels. Here is an official news release sent in by Brent Lynch (not the same as the one on starwars.com):
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The company that just bought the Dodgers and won a best picture Oscar for co-producing ``Titanic'' got something else to brag about Thursday: distribution rights for the next three ``Star Wars'' movies.
Director George Lucas and his Lucasfilms Ltd. reached agreement with 20th Century Fox to distribute the movies, which are prequels to the original ``Star Wars'' trilogy that earned $800 million total in domestic sales.
Fox will handle worldwide theatrical and video distribution for the upcoming films. Terms of the agreement were not released.
``We have three blockbusters that will be coming over in the next decade, and no other studio can say that,'' said Bill Mechanic, chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment. ``Everyone here is very happy.''
Fox Broadcasting Co. also secured the network broadcasting rights to the first of the new films, which has been in production for more than a year. Its theatrical release is scheduled for May 1999.
``Star Wars'' is the story of Luke Skywalker, a boy who struggles to overthrow an evil empire and the dark forces of Darth Vader, who is Skywalker's father.
Last year, on the original's 20th anniversary, Fox re-released the films. They earned a combined $250 million and created a new generation of fans.
``We feel like 'Star Wars' is part of the fabric of Fox,'' Mechanic said.
Twentieth Century Fox is a unit of Fox Filmed Entertainment, owned by News Corp., which bought the Los Angeles Dodgers last month. Fox co-produced the blockbuster ``Titanic'' with Paramount Pictures.
1/12/98: MORE ON POSTERS
Yesterday, you'll remember, a poster retailer informed us of the possibility that prequel posters might be printed in the next few weeks. While I do not doubt that this is what his studio connections told him, we have just learned from a VERY reliable source that no such posters are being produced yet. Yes, I'm just as disappointed as the rest of you. This falsifies this report as well as the one below. I guess we'll have to wait a few more months, but I'm sure it will be worth the wait. As soon as any further developments take place, we'll be sure to let you know!
1/11/98: PREQUEL POSTERS AND RELEASE DATES
We have been told that the first teaser posters for Episode I may be printed as early as this month, for shipping to movie theatres across North America. Apparently, it is not uncommon for the first teaser posters of a movie to be made a year or more before the movie's release. Does this mean that we will soon know the title of Episode I? Probably not, since the first poster most likely won't even have the movie's full title on them.
Now, this is by no means for sure that the posters will be printed so soon, and even if they are, it's not certain that any will be available for fans like us. If you're really interested, though, you can give email@example.com a shout, the guy there may be able to get some once they're out. We'll try to get one ourselves as soon as they're out, so you all can have a look.
Also, this info may clear up the rumors about a possible Christmas 1998 release of Episode 1. A source tells us that Fox was pushing for it, but Lucas said "no". And I think it's for the best, since those ILM'ers would probably not be able to finish the job properly under that kind of pressure and time restraints.
1/9/98: DISNEY AND DREAMWORKS FIGHT FOR PREQUELS
Steve Head sent this in. As you can see, Disney and Dreamworks aren't giving up without a fight! Here's Steve's comments on this article: "I found this in this mornings' LA Daily News. I thought I'd send it your way. Disney and Dreamworks seem to be more seriously into this acquisition than I thought. If Disney or Dreamworks get it, the prequel would be subject to an entirely different marketing strategy. Disney definitely has the $$$ to get it. Dreamworks, being backed by Bill Gates, also doesn't have a lack of venture capital (Spielberg's pockets aren't exactly empty either). I shudder to think what Disney might do. Fox had better walk away with this. Their future, and more importantly the image of the SW galaxy is at stake here."
OK, now here's the article:
FOX HOPES FORCE IS WITH IT IN BID FOR `STAR
WARS' PREQUEL RIGHTS
01/08/98 11:10:30 PM
BY DAVE McNARY c.1998 Los Angeles Daily News
LOS ANGELES -- Tom Sherak, chairman of 20th Century Fox's domestic film operations, knows what he'll do when George Lucas comes to discuss distribution rights to the long-anticipated prequels in his ``Star Wars'' series.
``We'll lock the door and we won't let him out until we have a deal,'' he said this week.
Despite Sherak's mock desperation, Fox is the favorite to win in the next few months the rights to distribute the films.
What will Fox have to pay? ``That's unfathomable,'' said Arthur Rockwell, an entertainment analyst with Yaeger Capital Markets and a former studio executive. ``Obviously, Lucas has a lot of control, so that's going to mean a fairly low distribution fee for Fox and a pretty hefty commitment to prints and advertising.''
Industry trackers have said it's likely that Fox will reach an agreement, but also have speculated that should it fail to do so, Walt Disney Co. and DreamWorks SKG are the most likely candidates to strike a deal with Lucas.
The thinking is that both studios highly prize family-entertainment properties and both have done business with Lucas previously -- Disney with rides based on ``Star Wars'' at its theme parks and DreamWorks' Steven Spielberg from his association with Lucas on the Indiana Jones film series.
Fox handled the original ``Star Wars'' releases, which became the most successful franchise in Hollywood history, and Sherak was the studio's point man in the surprisingly strong performance of the reissues last winter. The campaign focused on the creation of new footage by Lucas, such as a scene involving the sluglike villain Jabba the Hutt, and slogans like, ``Three reasons why they build movie theaters'' and ``See it the way it was meant to be seen.''
Both Sherak and a Lucas spokeswoman agree that although no formal agreement exists, Lucas plans to meet first with Fox about the prequel rights. They also agree that no timetable exists yet, although studios have started taking up to a year to give the full-blast promotional treatment for major releases.
The rights are expected to be awarded within the next few months so the first of the new trilogy can meet Lucas' release date of May 1999. Lucas is writing, directing and co-producing the project, and expects to finish principal photography in September at Leavesden Studios near London. Lucasfilm has confirmed that the project, set 40 years before the start of ``Star Wars,'' centers on the introduction of Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi to a young Anakin Skywalker (known in the first ``Star Wars'' trilogy as Darth Vader, the father of Luke Skywalker). Reshoots for the film, which carries the tentative title of ``Chapter 1,'' are expected to take place this year. Confirmed cast members include Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Daniels, who played the C3PO robot in the original trilogy. Lucas is one of the nation's richest men, and his entertainment empire is worth an estimated $5 billion. He formed Industrial Light & Magic in 1976 largely because he could not find anyone else to create the special effects he wanted, and he pioneered the motion-control technology seen in the battle sequences.
At the time, Lucas also gave up part of his director's salary in exchange for 40 percent of the net profits and ownership of the publishing, music, merchandising and sequel rights. Lucas then financed ``The Empire Strikes Back'' and ``Return of the Jedi'' and struck a deal for Paramount to finance the Indiana Jones trilogy while Lucas retained ownership of the movies.
Lucas reached deals in October with Hasbro and Galoob to sell the merchandising rights for toys and games based on the next three movies for a reported $235 million in stock, giving Lucas an estimated 5 percent of Hasbro and 20 percent of Galoob, according to Business Week. Lucas is expected to finance the new trilogy at a cost of $60 million to $70 million per film.
Other speculation abounds about the projects. An Internet specialist in reporting on future films, www.corona.bc.ca/films, has reported that the script for the next movie reflects a darker atmosphere centering on themes of friendship, betrayal and the fall from grace into darkness. ``We know that Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith, and that the Jedi Knights and the Old Republic were destroyed by the rise of the Emperor and the Empire, but now we get to see how it happened,'' the site's authors predict.
1/8/98: MORE FROM PREQUEL WATCH
Lucas has a title picked out for Episode I, but is holding out till later to foil bootleggers and fan sites (like us! :) Prequel Watch expects the licensees to hear it first.
9/3/97: PREQUEL WATCH CHAT W/ TRUEFAN
TrueFan: as for Ep 1 title........You should get wind of the actually title by January. It is rumored that Lucas wants to use Star Wars: Genesis....but I DO NOT think this will be it...I think this rumor was generated by the Lucasfilm people or elsewhere.
Obviously this didn't come to pass but we'll hear something official soon.
8/3/97: PREQUEL WATCH TRUEFAN REPORT
"...The titles were for copyright reasons and could be changed at ANY time..........'Ways of The Force' is definitely NOT a real title! My source at Lucasfilm confirmed that this is a very 'funny' rumor according to him/her, and he/she has confirmed with me that Lucas is not going to be calling Ep. 1 'Ways of The Force'. I have been told that not even the actors know the name of the films, and the draft of the script that I saw had 'SW: Episode One' printed on the top of it. I can tell you that Ep. 1 was submitted to copyright under the title 'Star Wars: GENESIS' and that Ep. 2 was submitted as 'Star Wars: BETRAYAL OF THE FORCE'........Like I said though, these were not listed as working titles but were used to gain copyright on both scripts. I dont expect either of these to be used as the actual titles for the films, but who knows??....."
Hmmmmm! Betrayal of the Force is the working title for Episode 2? That's one we haven't heard, and it sounds reasonable, too! Stay tuned!
8/1/97: DRUDGE REPORT PREQUEL NEWS
"Filming could quietly begin in a matter of weeks in London on the new STAR WARS, working title: THE WAY OF THE FORCE. There is some talk around FOX -- in the running to once again distribute -- that a second and third prequel will not be shot back-to-back on the heels of WAY OF THE FORCE as had original been planned. Master Lucas is playing up the spiritual in the first film -- an almost direct teaching of buddhism..."
I (Scott) don't think 'Way of the Force' is a title, or working title. While everything else seems on target, I believe they are already filming in London and that Lucas' vision of the Force is more of a generic religion. You can't say it is solely Buddhist. But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
7/19/97: TITLES RUMORS DEBUNKED BY SANSWEET
Steve Sansweet confirmed in San Diego today that NONE of the titles, not even 'Balance of the Force', is the real Episode 1 title. But we've been saying that all along, right?
On another note, Paul Davidson sent us the following report on the title of Episode 2. He found a British Magazine's Interview with Rick McCallum:
"Ok, the magazine is called DreamWatch. It's a British
SF-Fantasy magazine, and has only recently become available in North America (hence its
This is the ... hmm ... May 1997 issue (Vol. 3, number 9), although it's new to the shelves here. The magazine is monthly.The entire article is an interview with Rick McCallum, from March. Here is the exact quote in question:
"I can say that Jabba the Hutt plays a part in the prequels, that is official!...'The Clone Wars' is actually the title of the second episode. The scale of the prequels will be huge...."
One other interesting quote:
"Certainly by the end of May we will have picked the cast."
So they've been merely keeping mum for a long time! Maybe if I find time, I'll send the rest of the article to you."
Thanks Paul! Stay tuned!
7/16/97: TRUEFAN CHANGES
From our friends at Prequel Watch, TrueFan has had a change of news from his/her previous report:
"Look for the "official" title for Ep. 1 to spill out sometime around Christmas. I was told that the book deal with Bantam could be signed as of October12th and at that time Bantam could actually release the name of the book..aka Ep. 1......so I will keep you updated on this little development...."
6/13/97: TITLE SPECULATION FROM TRUEFAN
The following report comes from Prequel Watch and their reliable source TrueFan:
"Expect to look for the official title for Ep. 1 to be announced sometime in July if not sooner."
6/1/97: CNN TITLE NEWS FROM LUCAS
Allen Neuman reported this to RASSM on 2/10/97 "George Lucas appeared on CNN today and was asked if the prequel has a title yet. Lucas said it does, but he's not ready to announce it yet. "Good try, though," he told the interviewer.
5/27/97: DUTCH MAG INTERVIEWS MCCALLUM
Bas-Jan Walwijk found an article in the Dutch Magazine SUM (Specifiek Universitair Magazine), vol. 7, no. 3. that had an interview with Rick McCallum. Bas-Jan noted that it said the following:
* McCallum repeated that the working title of the first prequel would be "Episode One: The Beginning", and that he wasn't sure yet if that was going to be changed. Oh. Anyway, of course titles such as "Balance of the Force" (he himself mentioned "Children of the Force") were nothing but fables.
5/19/97: BALANCE OF THE FORCE...HA!
A source close to Lucasfilm told us they asked them if BALANCE OF THE FORCE was the title of the new film. Lucasfilm got a pretty good laugh out of it! They said, no, it was not the title and that they had no idea where that rumor started. They said STAR WARS - EPISODE I is what it is going by right now.