George Lucas is clearly one of the few filmmakers who needs very little to no introduction. To some, he’s revered as a God, and maybe rightfully so, because let’s face it, few of us would be such big movie fans if not for the “Star Wars” saga and its geek-level of fandom has spilled over into other realms while growing by leaps and bounds due to the internet. If not for the work done by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) to bring Mr. Lucas’ vision to life in the six “Star Wars” movies, filmmakers like Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson would never had been able to bring their own creatures and characters to the screen in such a realistic manner. There would never have been movies like Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City and Zack Snyder’s 300 if not for the way Mr. Lucas pioneered the use of computer-generated background environments for films made on green screen.
Yes, a world without George Lucas and “Star Wars” would be a grey and dismal place for fans of science fiction, action and effects movies, because over thirty years after the big screen debut of the first Star Wars, the characters and worlds created by Lucas continue to find new and younger fans, all of whom will be happy to see him continuing the “Star Wars” saga using the latest technology for many years to come only this time, on television.
Mere weeks after the announcement that Warner Bros. would be releasing the feature film Star Wars: The Clone Wars in theaters this summer, Mr. Lucas was on hand in Las Vegas at the annual ShoWest Convention to present an extended clip from the movie at the studio’s “The Big Picture” presentation. The feature film and animated series fill the gaps between Episodes II and III, but it will also be the first “Star Wars” movie to appear on the big screen in three years. While the feature film looks to be very much in line with the recent movies, the animated series promises to introduce new characters we haven’t seen in the previous films and cartoons with stories that will be short episodic mini-movies.
Flanked by six Clone Troopers from the 501st Legion, Lucas introduced the extended clip, which begins with two Jedi carriers departing from a larger Republic starship. Inside one of them, Anakin briefs his young liege Ahsoka on the upcoming battle, telling his young apprentice to stay close because it isn’t practice although she’s very cocky and self-assured, snapping back that she’ll try not get him killed. The battle scene is quite impressive as we get to see Ahsoka in action against a large armored vehicle that’s able to climb up a vertical cliff-face, followed by a scene of Count Dooku relaying his plans to his own dark apprentice Asajj Ventress via the normal Jedi hologram communication, their plans interrupted by the entrance of Ben Kenobi, leading to a short lightsaber fight between them, Ventress disarming Kenobi with her advantage of two lightsabers to his one. The animation looked somewhat primitive compared to what else is out there with the characters not being as detailed as some might like, but the battle sequences are still very exciting and impressive.
ComingSoon.net had the rare opportunity to talk to Mr. Lucas briefly before the presentation and then we had more time to sit down with him in a more casual atmosphere afterwards. While there are millions if not billions of bigger “Star Wars” fans, being one of the few online writers who was actually old enough to have seen the original Star Wars when it first played in theaters in the ’70s, it was nice to finally meet and talk to such an influential filmmaker.
ComingSoon.net: How much overlap will there be between Genndy’s “Clone Wars” animated series and the new feature film and television series?
CS: Do you see the show going on for a long time? It obviously takes a long time to produce computer animation.
CS: And the live action show will go on at the same time?
CS: Since the feature is being done specifically for the big screen, where is the movie going to end and the series begin?
CS: There won’t be a “To Be Continued” at the end of the movie teasing those who see it to watch the television show?
CS: That’s pretty tight for a show starting in the fall.
CS: I assume the series will continue the same kind of scope and scale that we see on the big screen like the clip you showed earlier?
CS: You’ve always been such a big proponent of doing things in movies, so why did you decide to enter the TV world after all this time?
CS: But there’s also an issue with television where the networks are always looking at the ratings before deciding whether to keep a show on the air. You’re already doing so much work towards the future of the show…
CS: I know Anthony Daniels is returning to voice C3PO, but might there be anyone else from the movies that might voice their characters in the animated movie or show? I know that everyone loves Frank Oz as Yoda. Will we see some of them?
CS: It’s harder for scheduling.
CS: There’s been a lot of talk about where this animated film and series fit in to the “Star Wars” mythos. We know that “The Clone Wars” takes place between “Episode II” and “Episode III” but there’s only a certain amount of time that can be fit in there. Do you know how many years this war takes place?
CS: That would be fun to keep it going for that long.
CS: What are your plans for theatrical films in the future? You have “Indiana Jones” with Steven, but are you going to continue making movies, even if you’re producing other directors?
CS: It’s funny you should mention that because it leads to a question I’ve always wanted to ask you. Anyone who works at the same job for thirty years must wake up somedays and think, “You know what? I don’t want to do this job today.” You’ve been so invested in “Star Wars,” creating so many worlds and characters, but you must wake up some days and say “I want to do something else today.”
CS: Do you think you’d have other people continue the “Star Wars” saga past “Episode VI” or turn some of the other material into films?
CS: What’s going on with “Red Tails”? Is that something you’re going to be working on soon?
CS: So the TV stuff isn’t taking away from you making movies.
CS: Kind of what Francis Ford Coppola has been doing in recent years?
(At this point, Bonnie Burton from StarWars.com, who had been sitting in on the interview, jumped in with a couple questions of her own.)
StarWars.com: A lot of new fans will be watching this new animated series and seeing “Star Wars” for the first time, so what do you think of this new generation of kids that are going to be introduced to the “Star Wars” saga.
SW: It’s obviously a different tone but still has the drama and the characters.
SW: It also seems to show a little bit more of the clone characters as well.
As we wrapped up, we asked Mr. Lucas about the plans for “Star Wars Saga” on Blu-ray Disc as I took the picture above, but we got sidetracked by that and never got a response about a timeframe.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars opens theatrically on August 15 with the animated show due sometime in the fall.
Special thanks to Orna “Vader” from Warner Bros. for arranging this, Bonnie Burton from StarWars.com for her questions and support (she also took the picture above from the ShoWest presentation), and Mr. Lucas himself for taking the time to talk to us.