Public Gives the Latest Star Wars Installment Positive, but not Rave Reviews

by Darren K. Carlson

Qui-Gon Jinn is favorite character

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ--Although films like Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and Disney's Tarzan have now taken control of the nation's box offices, there is little question that this season's first and biggest blockbuster was Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. And, now that the dust has finally settled from the early hype and initial negative reviews of the movie, Gallup polling indicates that 16% of Americans have seen the latest installment of the Star Wars film series, as of the weekend of June 11-13. An even larger number -- 30% -- report that their children under age 18 have seen The Phantom Menace.

The movie clearly appealed to the young, with a steadily decreasing probability of having seen the movie as age increases. In fact, while 26% of Americans 18-29 said they have seen it, only 1% of those 65 and older have done so. The movie has also been much more popular in the West than in the East, and is more likely to have been seen by men than women.

While many critics sniped about The Phantom Menace, the American public clearly comes down on the positive side of the ledger when they are asked to evaluate it. Over three-quarters of those who have seen the film describe it as "good," "excellent" or as "one of the greatest they had ever seen," although of this number only 3% say it is one of the greatest movies they have ever seen, with 33% calling it excellent and 40% labeling it as "good". Just 21% rate it as only "fair" or "poor."

According to parents, positive reaction is even more widespread among young people. When asked about their children's reactions to the film, 90% of parents who said their children had seen The Phantom Menace indicated that their children thought it was "good," "excellent" or "one of the greatest he or she had ever seen."

The Characters
What about the various characters that populate the movie? Gallup interviewers asked Americans to identify their favorite character from The Phantom Menace, and perhaps not surprisingly, the "force" was with the Jedi Knights. Qui-Gon Jinn (a Jedi knight portrayed by Liam Neeson) was the favorite of 18% of those who saw The Phantom Menace. Anakin Skywalker (who later becomes Darth Vader) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Ewan McGregor) were favorites of 16% and 11% of viewers respectively.

Although some allegations of racial stereotyping involve the character of Jar Jar Binks, 13% of Phantom Menace viewers still cite him as their favorite. Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman's character) and Darth Maul -- the movie's chief antagonist -- were favorites for 8% of respondents.

Survey Methods
The results below are based on telephone interviews with randomly selected national samples of 925, 1,053, and 1,022 adults, 18 years and older, conducted May 21-23, June 4-5, and June 11-13, 1999 respectively. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Have you, personally, seen the new Star Wars movie called "The Phantom Menace"?

  May 21-23 1999 Jun 4-5 1999 Jun 11-13 1999
Yes 4% 15% 16%
No 96 85 84
No opinion 0 0 0
  100% 100% 100%

How would you describe your reaction to the movie -- did you think that it was one of the greatest movies you've ever seen, excellent, good, only fair, or poor?

BASED ON THOSE WHO SAW "PHANTOM MENACE"

  TOTAL May-
June (368)
May 21-23
1999
Jun 4-5
1999
Jun 11-13
1999
One of the greatest 5% 9% 5% 3%
Excellent 38 52 40 33
Good 36 32 32 40
Only fair 17 5 20 18
Poor 4 2 3 6
No opinion 0 0 0 0
  100% 100% 100% 100%

Next, which was your favorite character in The Phantom Menace?

BASED ON THOSE WHO SAW "PHANTOM MENACE"

  TOTAL May-
June (368)
May 21-23
1999
Jun 4-5
1999
Jun 11-13
1999
Qui-Gon Jinn (Jedi Knight played by Liam Neeson) 18% 13% 22% 15%
Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader in previous movies) 16 16 16 17
Jar Jar Binks 13 11 15 10
Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Ewan McGregor in Phantom) 11 6 14 10
Queen Amidala (played by Natalie Portman) 8 11 8 8
Darth Maul 8 15 5 9
Yoda 2 2 2 3
R2-D2 2 8 1 1
Watto 1 0 1 2
C-3PO 1 0 2 0
Jabba the Hutt 1 0 0 *
Shmi Skywalker (Anakin's mother) * 0 * *
Darth Sidious * 0 0 1
Mace Windu (Jedi Knight played by Samuel L. Jackson) 0 0 0 0
Senator Palpatine 0 0 0 0
NONE 7 4 6 9
OTHER 6 3 4 8
No opinion 6 4 3 7
  100% 100% 100% 100%

Has your child, or any of your children, seen the Phantom Menace?

BASED ON THOSE WHO HAVE CHILDREN IN KINDERGARTEN THROUGH GRADE 12

  TOTAL May-
June (874)
May 21-23
1999
Jun 4-5
1999
Jun 11-13
1999
Yes 23% 9% 29% 30%
No 76 91 68 70
No opinion 1 * 3 *
  100% 100% 100% 100%

Thinking about your oldest child who has seen the Phantom Menace, as far as you know did he or she think the movie was one of the greatest movies he or she ever saw, excellent, good, only fair, or poor?

BASED ON THOSE WHO HAVE CHILDREN IN KINDERGARTEN THROUGH GRADE 12 WHO SAW "PHANTOM MENACE"

  TOTAL May-
June (219)
May 21-23
1999
Jun 4-5
1999
Jun 11-13
1999
One of the greatest 18% 31% 17% 15%
Excellent 33 20 36 33
Good 39 41 33 44
Only fair 8 2 12 5
Poor 1 0 * 3
No opinion 1 6 1 0
  100% 100% 100% 100%
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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/3757/public-gives-latest-star-wars-installment-positive-rave-reviews.aspx
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