I think if "The Phantom Menace" (probably titled "Star Wars") hit the theatres in 1977, with 1977 special effects, 1977 filming capabilities and 1977 production value, it may have enjoyed some moderate success or simply broken even. However, I have a very difficult time picturing that story with those characters generating a huge financial success. "Star Wars" ("A New Hope") was such a success becuause it was so ideally suited for the audience of that day. It was a deeply character-driven story with a plot simple enough for a new audience to comprehend. It had so many iconic characters and events that instantly drove to the peak of popular culture. I don't think the storyline and characters of TPM would have held up in the same way. The movie would likely be viewed as "just another wacky sci-fi", and would largely be ignored. Much like "Zardoz", starring Sean Connery. I don't think Lucas would have been greenlit for a sequel, and the franchise would have died. We would not be SW fans today and we would not be posting on this board. Thank goodness ANH came first! But hey, I'm not psychic and my chrystal ball is murky.