Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace is a 1999 Star Wars film written and directed by George Lucas. It was the fourth live-action film to be released in theaters and the first film of the prequel trilogy. It was also the first Star Wars film to be re-released in 3D. The film was produced by Rick McCallum and stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, and Ian McDiarmid as the primary characters.

The film takes place thirty-two years before Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, the first film released in the saga, and begins as two Jedi attempt to resolve a trade dispute and eventual invasion of the planet Naboo by the Trade Federation. Unknown to the Jedi is that the situation is being manipulated by Sheev Palpatine, the Senator of Naboo and secretly a Dark Lord of the Sith called Darth Sidious. The Sith, the ancient enemies of the Jedi, reveal themselves to the Jedi after a thousand years in hiding; while the Jedi discover a young Tatooine slave named Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One destined to bring balance to the Force—and who will grow up to become Darth Vader. Meanwhile, Queen Padmé Amidala of Naboo fights to save her people from the invasion. The Phantom Menace was released in theaters on May 19, 1999, becoming the first Star Wars film since Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi sixteen years earlier. The release was accompanied by extensive media coverage and great fan anticipation. Despite mixed reviews from critics and fans, the film grossed $924.3 million worldwide, making it the second highest-grossing Star Wars film when unadjusted for inflation. The film was re-released on Blu-ray in September 2011, and was re-released in theaters in 3D on February 10, 2012. The film was the first major story in the prequel era and began fifteen years of canon Star Wars storytelling that would primarily take place around the time of the prequel storyline. The success of the film allowed for the next two chapters of the prequel trilogy, as well as the Star Wars: The Clone Wars film and television series. Numerous Star Wars Legends stories were also told in or influenced by The Phantom Menace and the prequels.

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