Disney CEO Robert Iger, left, and "Star Wars" creator George Lucas, center, celebrate the opening of a theme park ride in 2011. Disney is paying $4 billion for Lucas' film studio Lucasfilm.
Walt Disney Co. is buying Lucasfilm in a $4 billion deal that brings the best-selling "Star Wars" franchise under the Disney umbrella, with plans to release Episode 7 of the long-running saga in 2015.
Disney has long had a close relationship with closely held Lucasfilm and founder George Lucas, including featured attractions at Disney theme parks such as Star Tours at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida.
"It's now time for me to pass 'Star Wars' on to a new generation of filmmakers," said Lucas, 68, in a statement.
The cash and stock deal is valued at about $4.05 billion, Disney said. Lucasfilm is solely owned by George Lucas.
"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," Disney CEO Robert Iger said in a statement.
Lucas will act as creative consultant on the new Star Wars film, with more feature films expected beyond Episode 7.
The six "Star Wars" feature films have earned a total of $4.4 billion at the box office alone and offer "a sustainable source of high quality, branded content with global appeal," according to the Disney news release.
The deal is subject to federal antitrust approval.
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