New force for 'Clone,' Lucasfilm

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"Star Wars" is returning to the big screen in animated form.

On Monday, Lucasfilm, Warner Bros. and Turner Broadcasting System announced that the animated movie "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" would hit movie theaters Aug. 15.

The film, produced by Lucasfilm Animation, will be followed by a cable series in the fall for Cartoon Network and TNT featuring 30-minute "mini-movies."

Lucasfilm already has produced more than 30 episodes of "The Clone Wars," which will follow from theater to TV the fate of the universe that rests in the hands of the Jedi Knights.

"I felt there were a lot more 'Star Wars' stories left to tell," said George Lucas, who will executive produce the project. "I was eager to start telling some of them through animation and at the same time push the art of animation forward."

Both the film and TV mini-movies will mix favorite "Star Wars" heroes such as Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Padme Amidala with new ones like Anakin's Padawan learner, Ahsoka. Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous round out the cast of sinister villains poised to rule the galaxy.

"This is a breakthrough project -- returning 'Star Wars' to the big screen in a completely new way while beginning an exciting new chapter in George Lucas' legendary saga," Warners president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman said.

Added Turner Animation president and COO Stuart Snyder, " 'The Clone Wars' on Cartoon Network will be appointment television for everyone in the family."

For the past 30 years, Lucasfilm has partnered with 20th Century Fox in distributing the "Star Wars" movie franchise. Lucasfilm spokesman John Singh said the production company still maintains a "successful and strong partnership" with the studio. But Warner Bros. was "uniquely situated" for the animated project with its TV group, he added.
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