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The Trailer for 'Strange Magic,' George Lucas's Next Big Movie

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George Lucas may not be involved in the day-to-day production of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but he’s still hard at work at Lucasfilm. He wrote the story and was creative force behind the studio’s next project, the animated fairy tale Strange Magic. Yahoo Movies is premiering the trailer for the movie exclusively above ahead of the movie’s Jan. 23 release.

"[Lucas] really wanted to make a beautiful fairy tale with goblins and elves, and do it in a way that only this company can do," Gary Rydstrom, a Lucasfilm employee since 1983 and the director of Strange Magic, tells Yahoo Movies. “He had been working on it for a long time.”

The plot, inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream, is split between two worlds: a kingdom that is home to “fairies, elves, imps and all sorts of creatures,” and then a dark forest, which houses “scary goblins and other nasty creatures.” The residents never venture out of their respective worlds…until forbidden love potions, made from flowers that grow along the border, are let loose.

At that point, “all heck breaks loose,” Rydstrom says, especially when the two main characters (voiced by Alan Cumming and Evan Rachel Wood) meet. The director says Lucas often emphasized that the story should be about “finding beauty in strange places.”

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Some exclusive art from Strange Magic

Strange Magic is filled with new versions of hit pop songs sung by Wood, Cumming, and other cast members like Kristin Chenoweth, Elijah Kelley, and Maya Rudolph. Rydstrom previewed the set list for us which includes Wood singing Heart’s “Straight On” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger”; Cumming tackling Deep Purple’s “Mistreated”; Chenoweth singing the ’50s classic “Love is Strange”; Kelley singing “Say Hey,” a Michael Franti song chosen by George Lucas for the film; and a so-far undisclosed castmember singing Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

"To be sitting in a room when Kristin Chenoweth sings a high note on ‘Love is Strange,’ to be five feet from her when she sings — I felt like I should have paid her,” Rydstrom jokes.

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Exclusive art from Strange Magic

A longtime sound designer with seven Oscar wins to his name, Rydstrom previously directed the 2006 Pixar short Lifted and the Toy Story short, Hawaiian Vacation. He’s worked with the animation studio since it was based at Lucasfilm in the 1980s, with credits that go as far back as Luxo Jr..

Lucasfilm, of course, was bought by Disney in late 2012, when Strange Magic was already well underway. Rydstrom and his team screened the film for Disney executives. “We’re not Pixar or Disney Animation, so in some ways George was our John [Lasseter] on this one,” Rydstrom explains. “I like the fact — not that I don’t like advice from all over — but this is our own thing, this is a Lucasfilm project.”

He compares Strange Magic to another pop culture-infused fantasy project that has become beloved over the years. “I remember when Labyrinth came out and how exciting that was. There was a magic to that,” Rydstrom says. “This has the same vibe to me.”

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Exclusive art from Strange Magic

Photo credits: Touchstone Pictures/Lucasfilm/Disney