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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.

The BBC's Lizo Mzima witnesses the rush to see just a few minutes of the new Star Wars
The launch on the film's official website of the "rushes" for Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace has created on-line congestion not witnessed since the publication of the Starr Report.

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

[ image: Queues for the trailer]
Queues for the trailer
At the 75 selected cinemas in the US and Canada where it is being shown, many thousands of people have had to queue around the block several times to pay $10 just for a glimpse of the next of Mr Lucas's offerings.

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. 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.

[ image: The young Darth Vader, as seen in the trailer]
The young Darth Vader, as seen in the trailer
But appearances can be deceptive. The trailer's Editor Mark Mrnka says in the website introduction: "It may look like this trailer gives away a lot, but it's only scratching the surface."

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.

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