A trilogy of prequels is in the works for the legendary sci-fi series

After years of pondering a Star Wars sequel, George Lucas is now committed to reviving the Skywalker clan saga. ”I’ve got the stories done,” says Lucas, ”but I have to write the screenplay, so that’s a deterrent.”

According to Lucas, production on the sequel — actually, a trilogy of prequels — will start within two years. Focusing on a young Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, a.k.a. Darth Vader, they will likely feature a new cast — a necessity considering that the inevitable has happened and Star Wars youngsters Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford are as old as Yoda.

What has drawn Lucas back to the Force? Technology, for one thing. Recent advances in digital effects — pioneered by Lucas’ own Industrial Light & Magic — could make any new Star Wars film considerably less expensive to produce.

And speaking of money, a return of the Jedi could mean a potential fortune for Lucas, who controls the rights to subsequent movies and is free to auction them off to the highest bidding studio.

Best of all, Lucas reportedly may direct, something he hasn’t done since the 1977 original. That alone should send the studios scurrying. As one studio chief says, ”Somebody else doing Star Wars means nothing; George Lucas doing it means everything.”