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Monday, June 21, 1999 Published at 17:20 GMT 18:20 UK


UK set for all-night Star Wars

Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson star in the new film

British cinemas are planning to open all night to cope with the rush of fans to see the Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace.

The film - which has already smashed box-office records in the US - will be released in the UK at 0001 BST on 15 July - a day earlier than previously planned.

Chains including Warner Village Cinemas and Virgin are now waiting for clearance from distributors 20th Century Fox to show Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace after months of negotiations.

Virgin Cinemas marketing manager Jonathan Kirkley said: "We are anticipating an unprecedented demand and we have made this move to ensure we are in the best position to show the optimum number screenings to meet with customer demand in each region."

A spokeswoman for Warner Village Cinemas said: "24-hour opening makes sense because the demand is unprecedented and there will be huge queues otherwise.

"We have been inundated with phone calls from people who are desperate to find out what the screening arrangements are."

When it opened in the US in May, the film took just five days to make $100m at the box office, and took a record $28.5m on its first day.

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