The Walt Disney Company announced on Tuesday, October 30, that it has agreed to acquire George Lucas' production company Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, following years of collaboration.
In its statement, Disney also said that a seventh "Star Wars" film was set for release in 2015.
UPDATE: George Lucas says a new "Star Wars" trilogy, made up of episodes 7, 8 and 9, is in the works, not just one sequel. Check out a full transcript of his remarks, which he made in a videotaped interview released following Disney's announcement.
The deal comes following years of collaboration between the entertainment giant and the famous director, who wrote and produced the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" films. The two have worked together since the 1980s to create rides and attractions at Disney's theme parks based on his iconic film serials. Lucas also produced "Captain EO," the Michael Jackson 3D movie and ride first featured at the Disneyland Resort.
"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see 'Star Wars' passed from one generation to the next," Lucas, 68, said in a statement provided by Disney. "It's now time for me to pass 'Star Wars' on to a new generation of filmmakers. I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime."
"I'm confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, 'Star Wars' will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come," he said. "Disney's reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products."
Kathleen Kennedy is currently the co-chairperson of Lucasfilm and will now become its president. She will also serve as the brand manager for "Star Wars" and as executive producer on new films in the franchise.
A seventh movie, tentatively called "Star Wars: Episode 7," is "targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future," Disney said. Lucas will serve as creative consultant for the new movies.
He founded Lucasfilm 1971 in California, where he lives. Until now, the company was privately-owned and its revenue has never been disclosed publicly.
Under the teams of the deal, Disney will own the company, the "Star Wars" franchise, which has made $4.4 billion globally, and "will also acquire the substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies that have kept audiences enthralled for many years," the statement said, also adding that "the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations."
In addition to the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" films, which have been released periodically since the late 1970s, Lucasfilm has also produced movies such as "American Graffiti" and "Howard The Duck" and the cult fantasy flicks "Labyrinth" and "Willow." In recent years, it has made "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones"-themed video games and the animated series "Star Wars: The Clone Wars."
Lucasfilm's latest movie project was the 2012 film "Red Tails," a World War II picture he financed himself that stars Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. and centers on the Tuskegee Airmen - a group of black United States Army Air Force fighters. The movie flopped.
Lucasfilm also teamed up with Rovio Entertainment to make a "Star Wars"-themed version of the popular mobile "Angry Birds" video game. Lucas' company is also collaborating with toy company Hasbro to make products based on the new game.
The Walt Disney Company acquired animation studio Pixar in 2006, and later made movies such as "Toy Story" and "Cars." In 2009, the firm bought Marvel Entertainment, which produced the box office smash "The Avengers," for $4 billion - about the same price is it paying for Lucasfilm.
Disney also has alliances with companies such as Jerry Bruckheimer Films, the production company of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, as well as Robert Zemeckis' ImageMovers Digital.
The Walt Disney Company also owns the ABC Television Network and eight local news stations, such as KABC Television, OTRC.com's parent firm.