Flashback Friday: TPM Title Announced 9/25/98

Has it really been 17 years? Geez!

From starwars.com’s Today In History:


“Jedi Squad,” LOL. I don’t remember that one. “Red Tails” was obviously used for something else. But I do remember a lot of people believing it was going to be “Balance Of The Force.”

I also remember the fanboy whining that TPM sounded like a Scooby Doo episode or that it sounded like a movie about ghosts.


26 Responses to “Flashback Friday: TPM Title Announced 9/25/98”

  1. Alessio Pasquali Says:

    It makes more sense know after you watch the Prequels and realize Palpatine was the Phantom Menace on the Galaxy. Yes, I remember when the title for “Star Wars Episode VII” was revealed as “The Force Awakens” that people were glad this was the first Star Wars title to reference the Force as a character of its own, and they wish that TPM would’ve been called Balance of the Force, but it really wasn’t what that movie was about. It was really about showing the menace Palpatine has on the Galaxy. Good thing there’s tolerance for it now, being that some people like RFR think it’s a very pulpy title.

    • morejawajuiceforme Says:

      I’m sure The Phantom Menace is partly a reference to Palpatine pulling the strings from the shadows, like a ghost, but I think it also refers specifically to the Trade Federation threat being a red herring of sorts. They were not the real threat. They were a smoke screen, a phantom menace, indeed.

      • jarjarbacktattooguy Says:

        The Trade Federation and Separatist army were the visible enemies.

        The unseen enemy were the Sith; the phantom menace!

        But yeah, the Sith were behind the Separatists, as well as the Republic, like a cancer with its own agenda. So they all were just an extension of the Sith menace.

      • morejawajuiceforme Says:

        In the case of the Trade Federation, I was taking “phantom” to mean “fake”.

        From the dictionary.com entry for “phantom”:

        -of, relating to, or of the nature of a phantom; illusory:
        a phantom sea serpent.

        -named, included, or recorded but nonexistent; fictitious:
        Payroll checks were made out and cashed for phantom employees.

        In the end, though, it’s all part of the same threat indeed, so whatever. I like to think the title works on multiple levels. 😛

  2. bansheegun Says:

    1998. I don’t even want to think about how old I was….

  3. Jacobesico Says:

    “The Phantom Menace” sounds like a Saturday matinee serial from the 1940s which is the main inspiraton for Star Wars.

    “Balance of the Force” sounds dull and empty as does “The Force Awakens”. So despite their claims, JJ Abrams and Simon Pegg don’t know Star Wars better then its creator.

    It’s a shame how Episode 1 is so underrated. A lot of those “fans” could learn a lot from it if they had the intelligence to do so.

    • Hunk a Junk Says:

      This. “The Force Awakes” doesn’t have the Saturday morning serial pulpiness. As a title, TFA can’t wipe TPM’s bantha butt!

    • jarjarbacktattooguy Says:

      The Star Wars and Indiana Jones titles usually reference Golden Age movie serial titles.

      Here are some serials he may have been inspired by:

      The Lost Planet

      The Phantom of the Air

      The Purple Monster Strikes

      Zombies of the Stratosphere

      Daredevils of the Red Circle

      Panther Girl of the Kongo

      Raiders of Ghost City

      The Valley of Vanishing Men

  4. Sergey Holod Says:

    Yes, people tend to forget that George Lucas was criticized for “The Empire Strikes Back” title. His colleagues thought it is too goofy – it sounds like “The Pink Panther Strikes Again”. But the movie was released and nowadays nobody have any problem with it.

    “The Phantom Menace” is my favourite episode. In my opinion it is the most perfect episode in terms of narrative, dialogs, music – all its aspects. All other episodes have a feeling of haste. Inspired haste, but still. One can feel that “The Phantom Menace” had the longest period of preparation and development. Its narrative flows faultlessly.

    Furthermore I was slightly upset that the Battle of Geonosis from “Attack of the Clones” had no new music – it was citation after citation from “The Phantom Menace”.

    “The Force Awakens” sounds to me like another slap in the face of George Lucas. It sounds as if “The Force” was siphoned from “Star Wars” by George Lucas (and his Prequels), and now after he’s gone it awakens. It was my first impression. And I don’t care if it sounds paranoiac.

    • Dave Strohmenger Says:

      I remember when “Attack of the Clones” was announced as the title for Ep II. People were saying it “wasn’t elegant”. As if “The Empire Strikes Back” is an elegant title.

      • lazypadawan Says:

        I remember that too.

      • Hunk a Junk Says:

        Well I remember cynics sneering condescendingly about all the “flaws” in Star Wars in 1977 (and don’t get me started about all the things they hated about Empire three years later). So I win. I’m old.

      • Noah Evans Says:

        “Attack of the Clones”s title is not just a homage to those films from the 1950s, but possibly could have a deeper meaning behind it. From what I could ponder up, Padme and Anakin’s forbidding love isn’t just impossibly impossible due to the “Code of the Jedi” (try making that a title), but because of how a new war is breaking out, one that were tear their world and love apart. Also, attacking is what the Jedi aim to NOT do, because they are not soldiers like clones are, but more of monks with flashy swords (irony?). Not to mention how one way of attacking is to “Strike Back” 😉

  5. roxam91 Says:

    I remember 8 year old me not knowing what the word ‘Menace’ even meant, though I always referred to it as Episode I. Ah, good times…

  6. Keith Palmer Says:

    “Balance of the Force” seems to have stuck with me as well (just as the go-to for “Episode III” titles always seemed to be “Fall of the Republic”), and I do have to admit that in my years of isolation I could get a little twitchy just seeing the word “phantom” by itself… but I think I’ve got over that. I suppose I’m willing to accept there were things about The Phantom Menace that could provoke negative reactions (I can get stuck mentally stringing out explanations to the smug comments that “Qui-Gon should have just found a money-changer”), but the way they got strung together into something absolutely encompassing finally got to seem sort of ridiculous.

  7. mes520 Says:

    Well Genesis kinda makes sense since the working title was “The Beginning”.

  8. jarjarbacktattooguy Says:

    The titles should have been:

    Star Wars Episode I: Palpatine Gonna Git You Sucka

    Star Wars Episode II: Anakin Skywalker and the Great Clone Caper

    Star Wars Episode III: Can Anakin Skywalker Ever Forget Padme Amidala and Find True Happiness?

    • Alessio Pasquali Says:

      Not all of Latino Review’s reports we’re BACK. One was later confirmed true: the return of Harrison Ford from El Mayimbe.

  9. Alessio Pasquali Says:

    Come on, guys. Let’s not disrespect Disney and JJ here. I like the title for “The Force Awakens”. It has kind of like a dual meaning to it when u see many things that happened, George giving Star Wars to Disney, JJ being brought on, the original cast being brought back and being kind of reawakened into this new era of Star Wars. Also, the title is kind of an indication, at least to my eyes, that one big PT element might be fully explained and given more answers to in the ST which is the Balance of the Force and what that all means and how you can use that as a measurement in terms of light side versus dark side in the Galaxy, because even after the Mortis arcs and Yoda arcs and Clone Wars, it’s still all left very vague. Plus, this something you guys have to understand, GL’s original titles for Episode VII would’ve sucked because the first title, “Return of the Sith”, is basically a mash-up of “Return of the Jedi” and “Revenge of the Sith” and diminishes what Return of the Jedi was and how it ended with the Sith being abolished. And the second title, “Rise of the Jedi”, is a confusing title because it would leave you asking what are the Jedi doing. Are they returning or rising? So, u have to understand a lot of people wanted The Force in a Star Wars title since 1998, and know they’ve got it in “The Force Awakens”. Plus, it represents The Force as a character of its own. Even guys like Jimmy Mac of RebelForce Radio felt this way ever since 1998.

    • Stefan Kraft Says:

      Would GL’s original title for EP VII really have been “Return of the Sith”? I’m just curious, where have you read this? (I am sorry if this is common knowledge, I do not follow spoiler sites etc.)

      • Alessio Pasquali Says:

        Latino Review’s Kelvin Chavez had a story on this. Here’s the link: http://www.latino-review.com/2013/10/exclusive-working-titles-star-wars-episode-vii/

      • roxam91 Says:

        I have a hard time believing those titles are legit quite honestly. Unless info on George’s ST treatments ever get released publically, I can’t trust any source on them.

      • Sergey Holod Says:

        It is common knowledge that George Lucas has no idea what “Star Wars” is about. Only true creators of “Star Wars” like Simon Pegg know true meaning of “Star Wars”. They will tell you: everything good in “Star Wars” was created despite of George Lucas.

        Perhaps my irony is too pessimistic or paranoiac yet reading various “Star Wars”-related forums and articles I made a conclusion that such a policy was devised by haters to eliminate George Lucas as creator of the beloved “original trilogy” which is the true and only “Star Wars” that exists.

      • piccolojr1138 Says:

        Most Latino Review’s reports about TFA were bullshit.

  10. Nick Skywalker Says:

    Yikes those other titles are horrid. I love The Phantom Menace as the title. I feel like all the titles are perfect and fit the mold of the story well.

    As for “The Force Awakens”…I honestly hate it. Maybe me opinion will change after I see the film but as for now, it’s not my cup of Jawaa Juice.

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