Lucasfilm: No Phantom Menace on DVD

Home-theater fans who hope to add a DVD version of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace to their collections when the videotape hits the streets in April will have a very long wait. Possibly as long as five years, according to publicity from Lucasfilm, which says director George Lucas wants to do "something special" with the DVD release, a project he probably won't get to until 2005, after he has finished the next two chapters in the "prequel" series.

"The film is being released on VHS videocassette only and is not being released on the DVD format in 2000 or for the foreseeable future," reads a Lucasfilm statement. "George would love to do something special with the DVD release, but he won't do it until he has time to concentrate on it," Lucasfilm spokeswoman Lynne Hale told

The news has disappointed Star Wars fans, who stood in long lines last year for the eagerly anticipated theatrical debut of The Phantom Menace. Star Wars lovers are probably the most numerous and loyal of all science fiction fans. Add to that fact the mushrooming popularity of DVD players, which have dropped well below the $200 price point. About 4 million players were sold last year, quadruple the number of the previous year, and sales should be even better this year. 200 million DVD movies will be sold this year, representing half of the revenue generated for the studios by videotape sales. "The guys at Fox and Lucasfilm must have taken their stupid pills," one irate fan explained.