Disney buys Lucasfilm—and promises another Star Wars movie!

This might be the biggest entertainment news of the year. The Walt Disney Company has just purchased Lucasfilm in a multibillion-dollar deal that rivals the money it dished out to buy Marvel Entertainment in 2009. But the even bigger news might be that Disney's already planning a seventh Star Wars film—and they want it out within three years.

The two companies jointly announced the purchase Tuesday in a press release, and confirmed that the purchase includes rights to the Star Wars franchise, including live-action and animation production and "consumer products." In the same release, Disney also announced plans for the 2015 release of Star Wars Episode 7, with Star Wars creator George Lucas serving as a "creative consultant." The company also said it plans "more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future."

"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," Lucas said. "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 cash and stock transaction is valued at an estimated $4.05 billion, just a bit less than the estimated $4.24 billion Disney dished out to buy Marvel three years ago. Like that deal, this one is also filled with new possibilities in the form of films, TV shows, theme parks and new Star Wars merchandise to fill up Disney stores. It also has big implications for the future of a long-buzzed-about Star Wars live-action series, along with many other potential Star Wars projects.

Lucas began to move away from Lucasfilm earlier this year, and brought in mega-successful producer and longtime Steven Spielberg collaborator Kathleen Kennedy to help run the company. Under the Disney deal, Kennedy will move from co-chair to president of Lucasfilm, and will report directly to Walt Disney Studios head Alan Horn. She will also serve as executive producer of the new Star Wars film.

We've already seen what's happened with Marvel since its Disney acquisition. Now another genre empire has joined the Disney fold. Where will Disney take the still-booming Star Wars empire? What do you think? Does this doom Star Wars, or are there great things to come?

(Via The Walt Disney Company, Deadline and THR)

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