The Force is Still Strong: Box Office Return of ‘The Phantom Menace’ Proves an Undeniable Fact About the ‘Star Wars’ Saga

Jar jar binks from star wars stands in a desert landscape at sunset with two suns visible in the sky, looking surprised.
Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

Over the weekend, Disney, Lucasfilm, and the Star Wars franchise proved an undeniable fact about the Star Wars saga and the Star Wars fanbase.

Related: Part of Failed ‘Star Wars’ Attraction at Disney World to Be Revived at Disneyland

A scene from star wars featuring qui-gon jinn, young anakin skywalker, r2-d2, and obi-wan kenobi talking inside a spaceship.

Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

The Beginning of It All

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, released in 1999, marked the beginning of a new chapter in the iconic space opera franchise. Starring Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, and Natalie Portman, the film is set decades before the events of the original trilogy and serves as the inaugural installment of the prequel trilogy, delving into the origins of key characters and the political landscape that shaped the galaxy far, far away.

The storyline revolves around the discovery of Anakin Skywalker, a young slave on the desert planet of Tatooine, who is believed to be the Chosen One destined to bring balance to the Force. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, encounter Anakin and recognize his potential, setting off a chain of events that will reverberate throughout the galaxy.

Qui-gon jinn and obi-wan kenobi in discussion aboard a spaceship, dressed in jedi robes in a scene from a star wars movie.

Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

Political Unrest Across the Cosmos

Amidst political intrigue and the scheming of the Sith, the Jedi strive to protect the peaceful planet of Naboo from the ruthless Trade Federation led by Darth Sidious.

Alongside Queen Amidala and a motley crew of allies, including the lovable Gungan, Jar Jar Binks, they embark on a journey to confront the dark forces threatening the galaxy.

A digital rendering of jar jar binks, a character from star wars, with large, expressive orange eyes and elongated ears, peeking out from behind a metallic structure.

Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

Despite mixed reception upon its release, The Phantom Menace lays essential groundwork for the overarching narrative of the Star Wars saga, introducing key characters, themes, and conflicts that will shape the destiny of the galaxy in the films to come.

A Revival of the Film For a New Generation of Fans

On Friday, the first Star Wars prequel film was re-released in theaters.

When it debuted 25 years ago, in 1999, it grossed $924 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 1999 and the second-highest-grossing film of all time. Upon its release, it was also the highest-grossing Star Wars film of all time.

Young boy in a pilot helmet and goggles, gripping the handles of a futuristic vehicle, ready for a race, with a focused expression.

Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

Over the weekend, the film proved that the Force is still strong with The Phantom Menace, as it drew in nearly $15 million worldwide–an exceptional feat when you consider it’s a prequel and a 25-year-old film that some didn’t care for upon its initial release.

Disney notes that “the film made $8.1 million domestically, which helped it take the No. 2 spot at the box office.” The film, the re-release of which was timed perfectly with May the Fourth on Saturday, was shown in 2,700 theaters, including 150 premium large format screens and 130 specialty motion D-Box/4D auditoriums.

Compare that to the 40th anniversary re-release of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in April of 2023, which only drew in $5.1 million.

Luke skywalker in a tense stance, wielding a lightsaber, with a focused expression in a dimly lit corridor, from the film "star wars.

Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

Worldwide, the re-release of the first film in the Star Wars prequel trilogy garnered $14.5 million. Such a positive reception of the re-release of the film proves one thing: The Force is still very strong with the Star Wars saga and with the Star Wars fanbase.

Per Disney:

The re-release of The Phantom Menace was paired with an exclusive sneak peek of the upcoming Disney+ series Star Wars: The Acolyte, which premieres June 4. A significant number of international markets are also playing the film, including the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Australia, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is playing in select theaters across the country, and fans can also watch the film, as well as the rest of the Star Wars saga on Disney+.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

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