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Thursday, 15 February, 2001, 11:11 GMT
Sky wins Star Wars
Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, Ben Kenobi and Han Solo
The Star Wars films have made 1.9bn world-wide
Sky TV is to screen all four Star Wars movies, including the latest The Phantom Menace.

Sky has paid around 12m for the science fiction movies in one of BSkyB's largest payouts for a single lot of films, according to the Financial Times.

Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker
The Phantom Menace: The second highest grossing movie of all time
The deal marks the return to the small screen of four of the world's most successful movies after an absence of 11 years.

The films, including the UK TV premiere of The Phantom Menace, will be shown on four consecutive Saturdays starting on 17 March. 12

Sky is said to have won a bidding war to bag the coveted set of films.

It demonstrates both the ferocity of the battle for viewers between rival TV stations, particularly digital.

Enduring appeal

But it also proves the enduring and huge appeal of Lucas's big screen creations.

The four movies also include Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Return of the Jedi (1983).

The release of the Phantom Menace alone in 1999 was preceded by months of eager, and well-publicised, world-wide anticipation.

The film grossed around $922.3m (634.8m), making it the second highest-earning film to date after Titanic.

Overall, the Star Wars films have generated around $2.9bn (1.9bn) in box office sales.

Sky has bought the exclusive UK rights to the movies for 12 months and is expected to show them more than once in that time.

British Star Wars fans will get the chance to see all four films in sequence for the first time at a film festival later this month.

The National Museum of Photography, Film & Television in Bradford is screening two film marathons, on 24 and 25 February.

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See also:

23 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Star Wars marathon planned
12 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Legend Lee joins Star Wars cast
03 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Force behind Phantom video
14 Jul 99 | Star Wars
The Phantom Menace invades the UK
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