Original Australian One Sheet movie poster Style A Advance artwork. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is a 1999 American space film written and directed by George Lucas, produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is the first instalment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Pernilla August and Frank Oz. Lucas began production of this film after he concluded that film special effects had advanced to the level he wanted for the fourth film in the saga. The Phantom Menace was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound Mixing.