On this day in pop culture history: ‘Star Wars’ returned with ‘The Phantom Menace’
17 years ago today, long before we knew the Force would have an awakening in 2015, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace brought new tales of a galaxy far, far away to the big screen for the first time since 1983’s Return of the Jedi.
It was the beginning of a much-maligned prequel trilogy that would give us Jar Jar Binks, midi-chlorians, and a love story for Anakin Skywalker. (And some good things! Don’t forget podracing! And Darth Maul!)
Ultimate backlash didn’t stop audiences eager for a new Star Wars movie from turning out in droves, though: Phantom Menace was 1999’s highest grossing film, and all three prequel films ended up earning over $2.5 billion at the worldwide box office.
Revenge of the Sith was also released on the 19th of May. Today marks 11 years since the prequel conclusion hit theaters worldwide, after premiering at – believe it or not – the Cannes Film Festival.
Other notable May 19 happenings in pop culture history:
• 1973: Paul Simon single “Kodachrome” premiered on the Hot 100 at No. 82.
• 1984: Bob Marley and the Wailers started a 10-week run at No. 1 on the U.K. album chart with compilation album Legend, released to commemorate three years since Bob Marley’s death.
• 1986: At the Cannes Film Festival, The Mission won the Palme d’Or. It went on to earn six Oscar nominations, including one for composer Ennio Morricone. He finally won his first competitive Oscar this year, for The Hateful Eight, after getting six Academy Award nominations since 1978.
• 1991: Knight Rider 2000, the TV sequel movie to Knight Rider, first aired on NBC.
• 1994: The eighth and final season of L.A. Law concluded on NBC.
• 1994: Seinfeld episode “The Opposite” first aired, giving fans a sense of what George would be like if he didn’t follow his instincts. Turns out doing the exact opposite of what he normally would do makes him less of a loser.
• 2002: The series finale of the original run of The X-Files aired on Fox. The episode featured the return of David Duchovny following his departure after the season 8 finale.
• 2004: Joss Whedon’s Angel aired its series finale.
• 2004: Shrek 2 opened in theaters. At the time it was the second-highest domestic box office opening weekend for a movie, with only Spider-Man keeping it from breaking that record.
• 2006: The Da Vinci Code opened in theaters.
• 2007: The Cannes Film Festival hosted the world premiere of No Country for Old Men. The Coen Brothers film went on to win Best Picture at the following year’s Oscars.
Birthdays: Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew (turns 72 today), Army Wives actor Drew Fuller (36), ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill (67), The Santa Clause actor Eric Lloyd (30), Skyfall actress Bérénice Marlohe (37), singer-songwriter Sam Smith (24), The Who guitarist Pete Townshend (71)