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‘Phantom Menace’ Opens in Singapore

May 28, 1999

SINGAPORE (AP) _ It took a bunch of American kids to bring ``Star Wars″ fever to Singapore on Friday, where the long-awaited prequel opened for the first time outside the United States.

Eight boys from the Singapore American School spent the day making long black and brown capes and assembling light sabers out of metal poles and electrical tape.

``We sewed these costumes while we watched all the other (`Star Wars’) movies,″ said Paul du Pont, 15, of Midland, Mich. He and his brothers and friends saved their money to buy $60 tickets for the charity premiere of ``Star Wars: Episode I _ The Phantom Menace.″

They staged mock light saber battles on the street outside the cinema. Once the movie began, ``We started the cheers when `LucasFilm’ flashed on the screen,″ said Nathan Chin, 13, of Fairfax, Va.

The audience also cheered at the appearance of old favorites, such as R2-D2 and Jabba the Hut. A new character, computer-animated Jar Binks, ``is not as annoying as everyone says. He helps balance the movie,″ said Evan Schwamb, 16, of Indianapolis, Ind.

Despite the hype that Singapore _ a techno savvy, rich and modern city-state _ would be the first in the world outside the United States to legally see what has been touted as the most anticipated movie of all time, most Singaporeans were blase about it.

Only two fans waited all night to be the first to buy the charity tickets, and some seats in the first row went unsold.

When tickets went on sale Thursday for the commercial theater showing at $4, there still was no rush to the box offices.

But there were a few Singaporeans who were excited by the event.

``I wanted to come in costume but I had to come from work,″ said government employee Michelle Thoo, 35, who said she has been a fan since seeing the original ``Star Wars″ in 1977. ``I have made scrapbooks, and read all the books that tell what happens later in the story.″

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