LOS ANGELES (AP) _ As if shelling out up to $9 for a movie ticket isn't rough enough, how about spending $100 _ or more?

It's what scalpers are asking for tickets to Wednesday's opening of the ``Star Wars'' prequel as they peddle seats to screenings long sold out across the country.

``It's horrible,'' said Tom Sherak, head of 20th Century's domestic film group. ``This is just what we didn't want.''

Director-producer George Lucas and 20th Century Fox initially decided against advanced ticket sales to prevent scalping, but relented under pressure from theater owners.

When tickets went on sale May 17, each customer was limited to 12 tickets, although there has been no formal way to stop scalpers from returning to snag more tickets.

Competition for tickets has been especially fierce on the Internet. The online auction house eBay has posted hundreds of listings for tickets to ``Star Wars: Episode I _ The Phantom Menace'' whose face value had doubled or tripled.

On Monday, a $8.50 ticket to the first showing in a theater in Bellevue, Wash., was up for bids starting at $15.00. Two seats at an advance showing of the film in Washington, D.C., were bidding at $200.

The practice, however flagrant, should have no effect on the movie's take at the box office, said Paul Dergarabedian, an entertainment analyst with Exhibitor Relations Co.

``If a ticket is being scalped, it had to be bought first. The theaters are basically going to sell every ticket that's available,'' he said. ``The loser is the moviegoer, who gets lost in the shuffle and will have to pony up a lot of money to see this film.''