The surprise news that "Star Wars: Episode 7" is destined for release in 2015, with episodes 8 and 9 to follow, was revealed Tuesday in a news release announcing that Disney is set to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4.05 billion.
"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," Lucas, chairman and chief executive of Lucasfilm, said in the release. "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."
The acquisition of Lucasfilm could be good news for "Star Wars" fans who thrilled to the original trilogy of films, released from 1977 to 1983, but found the subsequent sequels lacking. Disney has aggressively exploited its purchase of Marvel's comic-book titles, distributing this year's "The Avengers" and teeing up sequels based on Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. Lucasfilm, home to Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and countless other interplanetary beings, "offers a virtually limitless universe of characters and stories to drive continued feature film releases and franchise growth," according to the release.
Kathleen Kennedy, current co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become that company's president and serve as executive producer on upcoming "Star Wars" films. Lucas will serve as creative consultant. No cast or crew for "Episode 7" has yet been announced.
"Star Wars" is the second highest-grossing movie franchise, behind "Harry Potter," according to BoxOfficeMojo.