Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi, center, and Anakin Skywalker, right, are… (Lucasfilm Animation )
Thanks to CGI animation, the "Stars Wars" saga is coming back to theaters this summer -- but George Lucas said fans shouldn't get their hopes up about any future films that take the epic beyond the point of Darth Vader's death at the end of "Return of the Jedi."
In other words, it ends with the Ewoks.
"Whatever it is that happens afterward," the 63-year-old filmmaker said, "that isn't the core 'Star Wars' story that I like to tell."
The stories that do interest Lucas are the ones that take place before Anakin Skywalker dons the ebony mask of Darth Vader, which is why he and his 5-year-old Lucasfilm Animation venture will add a seventh feature film to the "Star Wars" canon on Aug. 15 with "The Clone Wars."
The movie has been produced with state-of-the-art computer-generated animation and voice actors, including Samuel L. Jackson, reprising his Mace Windu character, and Anthony Daniels as the familiar voice of C-3P0.
The fact that Daniels is back raises the idea that this new approach could provide a digital fountain-of-youth for other original trilogy actors, such as Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, who haven't been in the universe of the Jedi since they frolicked with the furry Ewoks on the forested moon of Endor at the end of "Return of the Jedi" in 1983.
If there's any force behind that concept, Lucas isn't feeling it.
"There really isn't any story to tell there," the filmmaker said. "It's been covered in the books and video games and comic books, which are things I think are incredibly creative but that I don't really have anything to do with other than being the person who built the sandbox they're playing in."
In the non-film versions of the saga, for instance, Han Solo and Princess Leia marry and have three children, one of them named Anakin after his notorious grandfather. All of it has been popular with core fans, but Lucas doesn't see any upside to extending the tale past the leafy luau on Endor where Vader's corpse was torched.
"I get asked all the time, 'What happens after "Return of the Jedi"?,' and there really is no answer for that," he said. "The movies were the story of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, and when Luke saves the galaxy and redeems his father, that's where that story ends."
The "Clone Wars" film in August will lead into a weekly animated television series of the same title that will air on both the Cartoon Network and TNT beginning in the fall. The new film and series will fill in gaps between "Episode II: Attack of the Clones" and "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" with stories of Anakin, Padme Amidala, Count Dooku and other second-trilogy characters.
" 'The Clone Wars' is a lot of fun for me, because in the normal course of the Skywalker saga, what happened during the Clone Wars is never told -- we see a little of the beginning and a little of the end, but other than that, it's skipped over," Lucas said.
"Obviously, during a war, there are lots and lots of stories, there's action, there's drama, there's heartbreak and sometimes there's comedy. Anakin was a part of the Clone Wars, so it makes a certain sense to tell these stories, because they ultimately do affect him."