Walt Disney Co. will pay $4 billion to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. and its lucrative "Star Wars" movie franchise from creator George Lucas, the company disclosed in filings Tuesday.
The Burbank media and entertainment company will pay Lucas, the sole shareholder of San Francisco-based LucasFilm, with about 40 million new shares of stock worth about $2 billion and the rest in cash.
“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,” said Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger in a statement.
Disney also announced it plans to release the live-action film “Star Wars Episode Seven” in 2015. Lucas will act as creative consultant on the project. Disney said it plans to release additional Star Wars films every two to three films.
“I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me,” Lucas said in a statement. “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 acquisition of LucasFilm also gives Disney ownership Industrial Light & Magic, which created the Star Wars special-effects company, also in San Francisco, as well as sound company Skywalker Sound and video game publisher LucasArts.
Lucasfilm joins a list of Disney acquisitions in recent years that includes Marvel Studios, the owned the "Spiderman" franchise and Pixar, the originator of the "Toy Story" franchise. Kathleen Kennedy, current co-chair of Lucasfilm, will become its president under Disney.
The announcement was made Tuesday despite the closure of the New York Stock Exchange because of Hurricane Sandy.
Shares of Disney last traded on Oct. 26 and closed at $50.08.