The Walt Disney Co. announced Tueday it has reached a $4.05-billion deal to purchase producer/director George Lucas' Lucasfilm Ltd. production house, including rights to the Star Wars film franchise, which will continue with a seventh movie scheduled to hit theaters in 2015.
In announcing the agreement, Disney Chairman/CEO Robert Iger said ``Star Wars'' is ``one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time.''
``Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision and storytelling of its founder,'' Iger said.
According to Disney, the company will pay roughly half of the purchase price in cash, and issue about 40 million shares of stock at closing. Disney officials said Lucasfilm employees were expected to retain their jobs in their existing locations.
Kathleen Kennedy, the co-chair of Lucasfilm, will become president of the company and report to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. She will also serve as the brand manager for ``Star Wars'' and will serve as executive producer on upcoming ``Star Wars'' films, with Lucas serving as a creative consultant. The seventh film in the franchise will be released in 2015, according to Disney.
``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,'' he said.
"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.''
Lucasfilm, which is headquartered in San Francisco, also includes the film technology divisions Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound.
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- City News Service