Yes, you read that headline correctly (and no, this is not some sort of elaborate hoax... we think). Walt Disney Pictures is, in fact, acquiring Lucasfilm in a deal valued at just over $4 billion. That means the Mouse House now controls the future of the Star Wars franchise - which means that more live-action films are indeed on the way, with a Star Wars 7 tentatively set to hit theaters sometime in 2015.
Scroll on down for additional information about the deal, along with the official statement from Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger - as well as the creator of the Star Wars universe (and head of Lucasfilm) George Lucas.
Earlier this year, Lucas announced his intention to leave his days of blockbuster filmmaking behind him. However, few (if anyone) could've predicted that meant selling the powerhouse studio he founded - not to mention, the rights to the game-changing sci-fi franchise he engineered - to Disney, a company that now owns three of the most lucrative creative bodies out there: Pixar, Marvel Entertainment, and now Lucasfilm. Here, as promised, are the official statements on the matter:
"Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas," said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. "This transaction 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 across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value."
"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. 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."
Kennedy, of course, has led an illustrious career producing the collective works of director Steven Spielberg, as well as such famous titles as the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Twister, The Sixth Sense, and countless other money-raking tentpole projects. She will executive produce the seventh Star Wars movie, which Lucas is slated to serve as a creative consultant on. Expect to learn much more about the project over the forthcoming weeks, as the tentative 2015 release date indicates that early development (perhaps even pre-production) is well-underway.
Suffice it to say: this is a MASSIVE development, as far as the future of the Star Wars franchise is concerned. Where the film series will go from here, who will step in to write and direct future installments, how much they will (or won't) deviate from the style of Lucas' much-derided prequels - as well as countless books/video game spinoffs released over the past couple decades - has yet to be revealed.
Moreover, one has to wonder: now that Disney owns the franchise, what does this mean for the long-gestating live-action Star Wars television show that was going to bridge the gap between the first two film trilogies (before this unexpected turn of events, that is)? That was viewed as a potential change-in-direction for the property, moving it towards more-adult territory beyond where the prequels or the ongoing animated Clone Wars TV series have ventured. However, now that Disney owns the rights, will that theoretical vision for a Star Wars live-action show ever see the light of day?
UPDATE: During a conference call following this big announcement (via Coming Soon), Disney revealed plans for a new Star Wars trilogy beginning in 2015, with subsequent installments arriving in 2-3 year intervals thereafter. Deadline has also mentioned that the studio is exploring the possibility of a new animated Star Wars TV series for its Disney XD channel. However, even though Disney does now have partial ownership of the Indiana Jones franchise, Paramount's claim on the property complicates the situation - which is why the Mouse House is prioritizing expansion of the Star Wars universe over producing more 'Indy products.'
One thing's for certain: you'd best start preparing to worship our Disney-overlords, as the Mouse House is seemingly determined to takeover the entire entertainment industry, piece by piece...