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Tuesday, 20 July, 1999, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Star Wars sets UK record
The Phantom Menace: Breaking box office records in the UK
Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace has broken UK box office records, raking in $15.1m (9.5m) in its first four days.

The previous record holder in Britain was Independence Day, another sci-fi blockbuster, which took 6.9m ($10.8m) in July 1996 over its first weekend.

The Phantom Menace opened in the UK on 15 July. And despite the weekend of glorious weather that followed, thousands of eager fans found the lure of George Lucas's long-awaited Star Wars prequel too great to stay outdoors.

Star Wars
There were huge queues outside cinemas on the opening Thursday and they continued throughout the weekend.

The record-breaking takings reflect both the anticipation of the UK audience, and the unprecedented screening programmes cinemas had planned in response.

Many cinemas were showing the prequel from 0900BST daily until after midnight, with many of the peak-time screenings sold out in advance.


One of the first of thousands of fans who queued up over the weekend
"We had 60,000 people through the doors on the first day, and there have been 35,000 more this morning until midday," said a spokeswoman for Warner Village cinemas on Friday.

She added that people had queued from 08.10BST over the weekend, to catch the first special early morning screening.

Warner is continuing to show the film at 92 screens in 23 of its 24 multiplexes.

And though most cinemas are no longer putting on special early morning shows, up to 800 screens across the country are currently dedicated to The Phantom Menace. This is compared to 450 for an average blockbuster.

The UCI chain is showing The Phantom Menace at all of its 35 cinemas nationwide, including eight screens of its 20-screen multiplex at Trafford near Manchester. Virgin cinemas is showing the film at 32 of its 34 sites.

In the US, the movie has already taken $395m (251m), propelling it into the top five most lucrative films of all time.


Kate Winslett and Leonardo DiCaprio in the worldwide recordbreaker Titantic
And with an overall $26.7m (16.9m) at 2,649 screens in 24 countries, the Lucas prequel has gone up to $116.4m (73.7m) mark worldwide.

It remains to be seen if the film has the stamina to keep the box office buzzing.

But for now, it is not expected to eclipse the worldwide record set by the film Titantic, which was released in 1997.

It earned $2.6bn (1.7bn) worldwide - much of it due to the appeal of the actor Leonardo DiCaprio with young women, which meant many saw the movie several times.

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