Wednesday, November 18, 1998 Published at 21:54 GMT
The Net feels the Force
Congested: Fans will be lucky to dowload the trailer this week
The release of the trailer for the first of the Star Wars prequels is attracting huge attention on the Internet.
Director George Lucas's Star Wars (episode IV) and its two sequels (episodes V and VI) are the most successful films yet made, but the buzz created by the launch of a mere trailer is such that episodes I, II and III look set to shatter all established records.
Now fans around the world are besieging the only place outside North America where the two minutes 20 second trailer can be seen - at http://www.starwars.com.
Unprecedented levels of security have surrounded the making of the three prequels, creating a "feeding frenzy" every time information is released to the public, usually through the films' official website.
Starwars.com offers a free download of the trailer in Real Video, Quicktime and avi formats, although it recommends a cinema viewing for "top-quality audio and visual presentation quality" including THX sound.
Episode One, which features stars such as Samuel L Jackson and Ewan McGregor, tells the story of the young Anakin Skywalker at the start of his journey to becoming arch-villain Darth Vader.
Fans' dedication to the Star Wars films is such that one report describes two thirds of the 500-strong audience for Denzel Washington's The Siege at a Los Angeles cinema walking out after the trailer had finished.
Film distributors have sought to encourage cinema-goers to stay by repeating the trailer at the end of films as well.
The Episode One trailer will be on general release in the US and Canada on 20 November. Fans will have to wait until May for the whole film.