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EPISODE II is in pre-production

Pre-production on STAR WARS EPISODE II (Lucas reportedly has a title inmind, but it has not been released) has already begun. Shooting is set tostart in June 2000 with locations at Fox Studios Australia, Tunisia, andItaly, and the release is scheduled for summer 2002. The story will focuson the romance and marriage between Anakin Skywalker (the future DarthVader) and Queen Amidala, and the Siths' attempt to gain control of thegalaxy. Whereas the budget for EPISODE 1 was $115 million, Lucas says hewants to keep the next film's budget under $100 million. Expected to returnare Natalie Portman as Queen Amadala, Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, IanMcDermott as Senator Palpatine, and Samuel Jackson as Jedi Master MaceWindu. Jake Lloyd is expected to be replaced by an older actor as AnakinSkywalker. Although there has been speculation about Steven Spielbergdirecting EPISODE II, Lucas is expected to return as director. The filmwill be shot using digital cameras, and an electronic camera system isbeing developed specifically for LucasFilm by Panavision and Sony. Sony issupplying the camera body for a 24 frames per second digital camera, andPanavision is making the lenses and supervising the integration of thesystems. EPISODE III is scheduled for release in 2005.