3. Star Wars Episode I: the Phantom Menace (1999)
As I said at the beginning, sometimes a trailer will come around that’s actually better than the movie it represents. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace isn’t a terrible movie, and the trailer is decent. So why is it number 3 on the list? You have to go back to 1998 (when the trailer came out) and try to remember just how starved people were for a new Star Wars movie at that time. It had been a full 16 years since Return of the Jedi came out and Star Wars had been in hibernation since. When this trailer hit theaters people went CRAZY for it.
How crazy? For whatever reason when the trailer debuted in theaters Fox Studios thought it would be appropriate to attach it to Meet Joe Black, a Brad Pitt movie in which he wears a tux and is supposed to be death or something. (I dunno, I never saw it, many people didn’t). Meet Joe Black released to mixed reviews at best but shot to number 3 in the box office largely because of the trailer for the Phantom Menace. Tons of people bought a ticket for this movie just to watch the new Star Wars trailer then happily left before Joe Black even began. I know. I worked at a movie theater when Joe Black first came out and people did this in droves. It was insane. (this was before high speed internet of course)
The trailer itself isn’t half bad. And looking back it actually shows way more footage than the first trailer for The Force Awakens did. (Hmmmm…..) New planets, Queen Amidala, a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, lightsabers, space dog-fighting, young Anakin, Yoda with sideburns, pod racing, Darth Maul and his double bladed lightsaber (accompanied by many hoots and hollers, Qui-Gon Jin, Samuel L. Jackson, battle droids, and of course R2-D2 and a naked C-3P0. It’s just crammed with goodness from a galaxy far far away.
But let’s be honest. At this point Lucasfilm could have just played the Star Wars theme over nothing but Jar-Jar Binks footage and movie goers would have stood up in rapturous applause.
The Phantom Menace trailer showed fans their first taste of a new Star Wars that many thought would never come. Sure it looked different than what they were used to. Shiny, opulent, and already heavy on CGI. But it was Star Wars none the less. And never under estimate how badly people love Star Wars………