In one of the biggest movie studio purchases in history, Disney is paying $4.05 billion to buy Lucasfilm Ltd., the production company behind the blockbuster “Star Wars” franchise. The payment will be made with both cash and stock — around 40 million shares.
Lucasfilm’s chairman, founder and owner George Lucas, has agreed to the deal; Disney also announced that it will be making a seventh “Star Wars” movie, set for release in 2015. Lucas will now be the creative consultant on the new “Star Wars” film. No word yet on cast, official title (other than “Episode 7″), or when in the “Star Wars” timeline the film will take place. There are, however, plans to follow up the seventh installment with “Episode 8″ and “Episode 9″ in the years to follow.
Kathleen Kennedy, currently the co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become president, and report to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Lucas said in a statement: “It’s now time for me to pass `Star Wars’ on to a new generation of filmmakers.”
The six existing “Star Wars” films have earned a total of $4.4 billion worldwide, slightly more than the purchase.
“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said Robert A. Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, to ABC News. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including ‘Star Wars,’ one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”