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    "Phantom Menace" Copy Stolen in Wisconsin

    Looks like a Sith lord is alive and making trouble in Wisconsin--and he's got his master (they always come in pairs, you know) with him.

    Dark Side or no Dark Side, whoever stole a reel copy of Star Wars: Episode I from the State Theater in Menomonie, Wisconsin--right out of the projection room sometime between late-Friday and early-Saturday--must have had some help, police say.

    The reel to the two-hour, 11-minute film weighs a Jabba-like 40-plus pounds and couldn't come close to being tucked neatly inside your Jedi robe. No, reels to major motion pictures don't get lifted out of exhibitor projection rooms between presentations very often.

    "In the 23 years I've been doing this, this is the first time I've had a film stolen," says Nick LeGros, the theater's manager, to Associated Press.

    Then again, as the more-grating-than-Jar Jar buzz has indicated over recent weeks, the first Star Wars prequel is an unusual film. Officials from the Motion Picture Association of America were concerned about pirate copies--really bad duplications made from video cameras getting smuggled into theaters--turning up before a pristine master version potentially hit the black market.

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