Fri, Mar 25, 2005 - Page 16 News List

George Lucas wins Galactic Achievement Award in US

His 'Star Wars' movies are finished and with the ShoWest 2005 accolade under his belt, Lucas looks forward to future projects

By Greg Hernandez  /  NYT NEWS SERVICE , LAS VEGAS

``Darth Vader,'' flanked by two Stormtroopers, poses with a pallet of Star Wars-bilia. The series has been good for spinoff businesses.

PHOTO: REUTERS

There are no Best Picture Oscars on his mantel, but filmmaker George Lucas received an award last week at ShoWest 2005 that no one else will ever get.

"I've been here at ShoWest quite a bit over the last 30 years, but I never, ever expected to get the Galactic Achievement Award," Lucas said after receiving the accolade and enjoying the night's only prolonged standing ovation.

Closing night at ShoWest honored Mel Gibson with the Film of the Year award for The Passion of the Christ, and Matt Damon and Jennifer Aniston were named Stars of the Year -- along with several other performers. But the main attraction was Lucas, whose sixth and final Star Wars movie will hit theaters May 19.

Earlier in the day, Lucas had treated theater owners at the convention to an extended preview of Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith. The scenes featured the dramatic metamorphosis of hero Anakin Skywalker into villain Darth Vader.

Lucas said audiences should be prepared to bring tissues for the second half. "This film is more of a tear jerker," he told reporters prior to the awards dinner. "It works as an emotional tragedy."

Lucas spoke of plans to eventually re-release all six of his Star Wars movies in 3D format, something he believes that, along with digital technology, is the future of movies. He hopes to begin in 2007 with a 3D version of the original Star Wars. The plan would then be to re-release each subsequent film in 3D a year at a time. There are also plans for a DVD six-pack of all the movies at some point, but the format is still being determined, Lucas said.

Lucas insisted that there will never be episodes VII, VIII and IX of the franchise. "It was a figment of the media's imagination. I made a joke once, and it turned into three more films."

Lucas confessed to reporters that he is actually glad to be releasing his final Star Wars film into theaters.

"When I committed to episodes I, II and III, I knew that was a 10-year commitment that would be arduous. I'll be glad to get my life back. For me, that's very exciting."

As for the future, Lucas is waiting for a script for a new Indiana Jones movie and also wants to experiment with different kinds of filmmaking technology to make short films and even some television.

"I've worked very hard to earn the right to fail for the rest of my life."

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