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How 'Star Wars' and the Internet Changed Movie Trailers

And how movie trailers changed movies.

When the first trailer for “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” came out in 1998, the only way to see it was to buy a ticket for “Meet Joe Black,” “The Waterboy,” or “The Siege.” Which, of course, many fans did — cheering while the trailer rolled and filing out immediately afterward. A few recorded the two-minute snippet and uploaded it to fan sites. The quality was awful, and the clip could take hours to download, but interest was so intense that sites crashed under the pressure. Lucasfilm put their own high-quality version online the next day. They had to increase their bandwidth capacity to handle the load.

When it came time to release the second trailer four months later, Lucasfilm partnered with Apple, releasing it exclusively with Quicktime software. Steve Jobs called the launch a “coup” — Quicktime was downloaded more than 600,000 times that day — and the biggest ever download event at the time, with 6.4 million downloads over the next three weeks.

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