Yes, you read that right. Disney is paying $US4 billion to buy Lucasfilm. Star Wars has a new home in the Magic Kingdom, and there will be a slew of new Star Wars films. Jar-Jar aside, we're going to view that as good news, since it means that George Lucas is no longer going to control every single detail.
Here's George's quote from the release announcement:
For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. 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. 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.
The first of those "new trails" will be a series of films, including the much-predicted films that go beyond Return Of The Jedi
[Kathleen] Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. 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.
Indeed, we can expect a new Star Wars flick every couple of years for the foreseeable future, as the press announcement makes clear:
The last Star Wars movie release was 2005's Revenge of the Sith – and we believe there's substantial pent up demand. In 2015, we're planning to release Star Wars Episode 7 – the first feature film under the "Disney-Lucasfilm" brand. That will be followed by Episodes 8 and 9 – and our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years.
Lucas announced back in May that he intended to retire. Nice way to score an extra pay packet, George. (Lucasfilm is privately held, so he essentially gets the lot.)
Main photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images