Star Wars Episode 7 will be coming for 2015, as it has been revealed that Disney is to acquire George Lucas' Lucasfilm Ltd for $4.05 billion in a move that has sent shock waves throughout the movie industry.
Paying half in cash and half in stock, Disney will own the company outright and it already plans to move quickly to expand the world of Star Wars through movie sequels, television shows, theme park rides, merchandise and more.
"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," said George Lucas, chairman and chief executive officer of Lucasfilm.
"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."
Current co-chair Kathleen Kennedy will assume the role of president of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn.
"I'm confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organisation, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come," said Lucas.
"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 acquisition includes all aspects of the company, including Lucasfilm Ltd, games arm LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound. At present it is expected that the staff of the different sub-brands will remain in their San Francisco offices.
George Lucas will be serving as a "creative consultant" to the new Disney-run firm, as long as the deal is cleared under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions. No problems are foreseen, however.
What is most surprising/exciting about the deal is that work will start on the new sequel to Return of the Jedi soon. No other details have been given, but it's something fans have been requesting for many years - a genuine sequel rather than prequel trilogy. And Disney promises that it won't stop at just the one film.
One thing that will be different though, is the 20th Century Fox fanfare that precedes the iconic opening bars of the Star Wars theme. It has long been considered part of the opening, so could seem strange without it. And what will happen to the Star Wars 3D movies now? Will they be rush released to clear the decks in time for the - clearly going to be in 3D - seventh film? And who will direct the latest chapter now that Lucas has stepped aside?
Either way, surely this is the biggest news about Star Wars we've heard for some time. Apart from Angry Birds, of course.
Wow... What do you think? Let us know in the comments below...
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