George Lucas made Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace for a modest $115 million (although that was 1999 dollars). Lucas got way more for his money. Look at the crap they're making now, spending half a billion dollars to produce.
I don't think I've seen the movie unless it was a Riftrax version, but I watched a documentary on the making of The Phantom Menace. It was called The Beginning, available here on You Tube.
It was painful to watch Jake Lloyd sign his childhood away. They show him writing his name in cursive at the bottom of the contact. The movie wrecked his life.
Jake had less experience that the other child actor they auditioned, he didn't do as well in the audition and the other kid looked more like a child version of Mark Hamill. I always thought Jake looked like a young George Lucas and I assumed that was why Lucas hired him.
The script didn't make it easy on the kid. In the audition, he had to ask Natalie Portman if she was a space angel then explain how he heard the space sailors talking about space angels. Portman later said that the movie gave her a reputation for being a lousy actor. The fact is that she can't act unless she's working with a director who's really good at directing non-actors.
Having a bloodthirsty Zionist like Portman in the movie was probably a good idea. It could deflect criticism for the profoundly offensive money-grubbing anti-Semitic stereotype alien. It was computer generated and watching them in the documentary doing to the CGI and talking about how the thing was going to act, they HAD to have known what the problem was.
And there was Jar Jar Binks, of course.
I've never liked critics who think they're being clever as they attack child actors. (I haven't attacked any child actors on this blog, have I? I find myself attacking everyone else.) Jake Lloyd was fine. Try to imagine a young Roddy McDowell or Mickey Rooney at the same age in the same role. Would they have done better?