To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace we need to talk about Meet Joe Black and how the unlikely combination of the two films introduced "Trailer Culture".
It was 1998, the year before The Phantom Menace would be released and the hype had reached a fever pitch. Fans desperately awaited a first glimpse of what was at this point the most highly anticipated two minutes and twelve seconds in film history. In this pre-YouTube world if you wanted to see the trailer first you had to buy tickets to the film in which the trailer was attached. In this case it was...Meet Joe Black, a 3 hour melodrama starring Brad Pitt.
Star Wars fans bought Meet Joe Black tickets in record numbers and
some theaters even promised to show the trailer again after the film ended in an effort to keep people in their seats. Droves of people that would never want to watch Meet Joe Black paid an estimated $4.69 just to see two minutes and twelve seconds of all-new Jedi action.
The Phantom Menace trailer and the hysteria it inspired was as memorable as Meet Joe Black was forgettable. This one trailer single-handedly created the trailer-obsessed culture we now live in. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released 20 years ago in May of 1999.
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