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Tuesday, 3 April, 2001, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Satellite TV feels force of Star Wars
Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, Ben Kenobi and Han Solo
Star Wars trilogy: More than one million viewers each
The screening of the original Star Wars trilogy has attracted the largest audience for satellite films in two years.

The three films, shown last month on Sky Premier, pulled in over one million viewers each, with The Empire Strikes Back drawing the most viewers with 1.23 million.

This is the largest number of viewers for a satellite or cable movie since Men In Black was watched by two million in February 1999.

The latest Star Wars film, The Phantom Menace, is being screened on Saturday (7 April) and is expected to be seen by more than the first three.

Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker
The Phantom Menace will be shown on Sky
The original three parts - Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi - were shown in their remastered form after being re-released at cinemas and on video.

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

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.

The Phantom Menace was one of the most eagerly awaited releases when it came out in 1999.

It grossed around $922.3m (634.8m) at the box office and overall, the Star Wars films have generated around $2.9bn (1.9bn).

The next Star Wars film is expected to appear in British cinemas next summer, with the following episode, Episode 3, coming three years later.

See also:

15 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Sky wins Star Wars
06 Mar 01 | Entertainment
The gospel according to Luke (Skywalker)
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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