I got goosebumps from watching the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that came out last week. The last time a Star Wars trailer gave me the goosebumps was the teaser trailer for The Phantom Menace in November 1998. That was over 20 years ago. Before the dark times, before Jar-Jar Binks. A very different time for the Internet and movie theaters than it is today.
The online teaser trailer for The Phantom Menace downloaded — not streamed — over 10 million times, a record for the Internet at that time. Most home users had a 56K dial-up connection, and DSL that was much faster than dial-up was becoming more widely available. With a faster Internet connection at work or university, you still had to download the video file for best performance on late 1990’s computers.
The teaser trailer appeared in theaters before The Waterboy, Meet Joe Black, and The Siege. People paid $7 USD to see the two-minute trailer and then leave without seeing the movie. I wouldn’t witness that until the trailer appeared before Wing Commander in March 1999, where 90% of the audience left without seeing the movie. If you enjoy really bad science fiction, Wing Commander was great. Freddie Prinzer Jr., who co-starred in Wing Commander, would later voice Kanan Jarrus in the animated TV series, Star Wars Rebels.
I was as a video game tester at Accolade when The Phantom Menace came out in May 1999. Our HR person pulled off the impossible by having the entire company of 100+ people see the 1:30PM showing on opening day at the Winchester Century 22 movie theater. The same theater that I saw the original Star Wars in 1977 when I was a seven-year-old kid.
We left the office at 10AM to stand in line for three hours before the movie started. The HR staff handed out sandwiches and soda for lunch in line. Other people in line wondered why we were getting the VIP treatment. Besides being hardcore gamers, we were hardcore Star Wars fans.
Like many people who saw The Phantom Menace, the movie itself did not live up to expectations of the teaser trailer. We will not speak of the evil known as Jar-Jar Binks.
Twenty years later…
- You can stream The Rise of Skywalker teaser trailer on your cellphone or PC, as everyone has enough bandwidth and hardware performance.
- I very much doubt anyone will pay $20 USD just to see the teaser trailer and walk out without seeing the movie, which I think might be Avengers: Endgame opening next week.
- With reserved seating for Dolby and IMAX movies these days, no one stands in line for hours to see a Star Wars movie, or any movie for that matter.
Will The Rise of Skywalker live up to expectations of the teaser trailer? We will have to wait and see.