'Clone Wars' Animator Tapped To Helm 'Dark Crystal' Sequel

Genndy Tartakovsky says he hopes to begin production on follow-up to fantasy cult film this summer.

A director has been chosen for the long-awaited sequel to the Jim Henson cult fantasy flick "The Dark Crystal." Award-winning animation mastermind Genndy Tartakovsky -- who most recently wowed audiences while redefining the Star Wars universe with the hyper-slick series "The Clone Wars" -- has been chosen to graduate to CGI and animatronics for "The Power of the Dark Crystal."

"The original 'Dark Crystal' was one of the most inspirational and imaginative pictures of its time," Tartakovsky said in a statement. "It's a real honor for me to be able to bring the world of 'The Dark Crystal' to a whole new generation."

Set hundreds of years after the first film concludes, "The Power of the Dark Crystal" finds the world once again mired in a seemingly impenetrable darkness. Tartakovsky's production will follow a mysterious girl made of fire who sets out with a Gelfling outsider to capture a piece of the mythical Crystal, which they hope will rekindle the fading sun that fuels their planet. A number of characters from the first film, including Kira (now reigning as queen), will return alongside the series' new creations.

Tartakovsky -- a 35-year-old Russian wunderkind who originally earned notoriety for creating the frantic children's show "Dexter's Laboratory" and the highly stylized, ultra-violent series "Samurai Jack" -- recently gained mainstream prominence when he was selected by George Lucas to create a cartoon series to fill the gaps between the second and third episodes of the "Star Wars" prequels. The result, an unflinchingly adult-themed series of shorts called "Clone Wars," was praised in many fan circles for having the kind of dramatic power that Lucas failed to achieve with his prequels. Such genre fans, many of whom still hold 1982's "Crystal" as a similarly glorious dark-side departure for Jim Henson, might embrace Tartakovsky as a worthy successor to the departed Muppet maker.

Henson's daughter Lisa, who is producing the film and overseeing its development as co-CEO of the Jim Henson Company, insisted that a style similar to "Clone Wars" and "Jack" will serve the sequel well: "As an auteur of such exciting and fantastical adventure projects, Genndy is the perfect director to bring to life 'The Power of the Dark Crystal.' I am sure that his visualization of [series conceptual designer] Brian Froud's designs will thrill fans of the original film as well as audiences who are meeting these beloved characters for the first time."

Although it wasn't an enormous success in its initial release, "Crystal" has inspired a rabid following of loyalists. As Froud returns for the sequel and Tartakovsky joins the fold, "Power" will be one of several projects (including a TV series, manga books, apparel and collectibles) aimed at bringing back the Urskeks and Skekses for a more hospitable "Lord of the Rings" movie generation. Tartakovsky said he hopes to begin production this summer.

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