The 'Star Wars' creator worries that older viewers might be disappointed with his kid-friendly prequel

By Liane Bonin
Updated May 19, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

All of you ”Phantom Menace” freaks who’ve been camping out in front of the cineplex without a change of underwear, listen up. Even George Lucas thinks you should get a life. ”It’s only a movie,” shrugs the 55-year-old ”Star Wars” mastermind. ”I’m happy that ‘Star Wars’ stimulates peoples’ imaginations, but I think they should have a well-rounded life.”

Lucas also thinks that old-school ‘Star Wars’ devotees, who’ve now aged into their 30s and 40s, may be disappointed by the finished product. ”Phantom Menace,” with its grade-school-age protagonist and cuddly sidekick Jar Jar Binks, is distinctly kid friendly, a fact that may have escaped some of the grown-ups who’ve been caught up in the whirlwind of hype. ”I am fully aware of the fact that some of the older fans have gotten themselves into a situation,” says Lucas. ”The film is really for young people. They have these amazing expectations the film can’t possibly meet.” And Lucas quickly brushes off the argument that the double trilogy, with its quasireligious symbolism, is really intended for adults searching for the meaning of life. ”There definitely aren’t enough answers in ‘Star Wars’ to constitute a religion,” says the director, who adds that he’s tried to make any spiritual themes as generic as possible. ”I think the point is for (fans) to go and look through the religions out there already and find something that has some answers for them.”

Lucas, who admits that he and studio executives at Fox did their best to prevent the film from being ”overhyped” but were thwarted by grassroots enthusiasm, won’t be feeding the ”Phantom Menace” publicity machine this opening week. ”I’m going to be on a beach in the South Pacific, far away with no phone,” says the single dad. ”And I’m happy with that.” Yeah, but couldn’t he take some of the peskier ”Star Wars” freaks with him?