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Lucas announces new 'Star Wars' title

Star Wars I
Liam Neeson, as Qui-Gon Jinn, and Ray Park, as Darth Maul, were characters in "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace"  

(CNN) -- Talk about good timing.

On the same day that media outlets reported that a group of researchers planned to clone up to 200 humans, filmmaker George Lucas revealed the title of his upcoming fifth film in the highly popular "Star Wars" series: "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones."

The news was announced on Lucasfilm's official "Star Wars" Web site on Monday.

The name joins chapter titles for the four previous films: "A New Hope" (1977), "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980), "Return of the Jedi" (1983), and "The Phantom Menace" (1999).

The new title is a reference to a favorite throwaway line in the 1977 "Star Wars," when Luke Skywalker is told that Obi-Wan Kenobi fought with Skywalker's father in "the Clone Wars."

The first three episodes of "Star Wars" follow a straight timeline; "Phantom Menace," released in 2000, and "Attack of the Clones" are prequels to that series.

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While the title was just revealed, the movie is already in post-production, set for a May 2002 release. "Episode III" is scheduled to bow in 2005.

"Attack of the Clones" picks up 10 years after the action in "The Phantom Menace." It follows the adventures of young Anakin Skywalker, Luke's father, who evolves into the evil Darth Vader of the later films.

The film stars Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Slowly rolling out details of each "Star Wars" installment -- and guessing at plotlines -- has become a ritual for fans of the blockbuster.

Giving each installment a chapter title "hearkens back to the sense of pure fun, imagination and excitement that characterized the classic movie serials and pulp space fantasy adventures that inspired the 'Star Wars' saga," Lucasfilms said in its Web announcement.

The "Star Wars" saga is one of the most financially successful in Hollywood history. The four movies in the series have grossed well over $1 billion combined.

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