Monday, May 17, 1999 Published at 07:26 GMT 08:26 UK
Curtain up on new Star Wars
The Force is back: Premiered in US cinemas
Hollywood stars turned out in force to be the first to see the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga - the most eagerly awaited film of all time, according to its promoters.
Tickets for the fundraising premieres were on sale for $500 - with the proceeds, more than $1m, going to a number of children's charities.
In Hollywood, many of the stars at the premiere were fans as children of the original Star Wars trilogy.
Others leaving the cinema in Westwood, Los Angeles, described Phantom Menace as "awesome".
Some labelled it "very disappointing" and others called it a "let down". BBC News Online's Entertainment Correspondent Tom Brook says the story is "very, very thin".
Mr Lucas says that, after the hype, a backlash is inevitable.
For them it is the film they have been waiting to see for 16 years, since the release of Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi.
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