By Hindustan Times
Entertainment giant Walt Disney Co is to buy director George Lucas's world-renowned Lucasfilm Ltd, including his legendary Star Wars franchise, for some $4 billion, it announced Tuesday.
A new movie in the series, Star Wars 7, is set for release in 2015 "with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future," said a Disney statement.
The deal "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," said Disney chief Robert Iger.
The transaction is valued at $4.05 billion -- based on current stock value -- with Disney paying about half in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing.
"Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas," said Iger, head of global entertainment giant Disney, which is headquarted in Burbank, just outside Los Angeles.
Lucas himself, chairman and chief executive officer of Lucasfilm, added: "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."