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The Force Is Strong With This One: Disney Buys Lucasfilm For $4B

Fanboys and -girls, get ready to celebrate – or be disappointed: Disney announced Tuesday that it was buying Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4 billion, and continue the Star Wars franchise with the first of new series of films in 2015.

Here's more from the news release issued by Disney:

Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.

Lucasfilm founder George Lucas said the deal allows him a chance to pass the beloved Star Wars franchise 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," he said. "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."

Here's more on the deal:

"Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm, will become President of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney's global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise. Ms. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future."

The Star Wars franchise began in 1977 with the release of A New Hope. Five movies followed: Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983), The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005). Combined, the movies have grossed more than $4 billion worldwide. The films have inspired generations of moviegoers and spawned a devoted fan base.

Disney bought Marvel Entertainment, and its associated characters, for $4 billion in 2009. The studio has had mega-successes with movies such as The Avengers and Iron Man.

Update at 4:45 p.m. ET More Details

In a conference call, Disney said the studio will also release episodes 8 and 9 of the franchise; Star Wars films will be released every two-three years.

Disney, which bought animation giant Pixar, the makers of Toy Story and Nemo, for $7.4 billion in 2006, also acquires Lucasfilm's Indiana Jones franchise, as well as its movie-effects business, including Industrial Light and Magic and Skywalker Sound.

"If Disney is really trying to focus on the tentpole, event pictures, and given that this is something that has huge carryover value in the parks and merchandise business, it certainly makes sense," said Matthew Harrigan, an analyst at Wunderlich Securities in Denver, told Bloomberg News. "This is just the paradigm of the sustainable Hollywood franchise."

Update at 5:52 p.m. ET Lucas and Kennedy On Deal

There's a video up with Lucas and Kennedy, who produced E.T., discussing the deal and the new movies.

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