disney lucasfilm 'Star Wars: Episode 7' on the way as Disney moves to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd.

Disney has already acquired companies like Pixar and Marvel Studios, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the next name on its list was Lucasfilm. Still, that logic doesn’t change the fact that news of this acquisition felt like it came out of left field.

Walt Disney Pictures has issued a press release announcing that the company has “agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd.” “Star Wars” director George Lucas created Lucasfilm in 1971, but it was announced earlier this year that producer Kathleen Kennedy would replace him as co-chair as he prepares for retirement. Disney has now said Kennedy will be promoted to President of Lucasfilm and act as the “Star Wars” brand manager. Disney will purchase the company for $4.05 billion.

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The company has also confirmed that a “Star Wars: Episode 7” is targeted for 2015, with “more feature films expected to continue the ‘Star Wars’ saga and grow the franchise well into the future.” Lucas will act as creative consultant while Kennedy will be executive producer.

Lucas seems pretty thrilled about this transition, though. he revealed in a statement that he hopes this business move breathes new life into the “Star Wars” franchise.

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“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see ‘Star Wars’ passed from one generation to the next,” he writes. “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.”

The 68-year-old continues, “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.”

So, let’s take some bets here: Who else thinks this movie will be called “Star Wars: Episode 7 — The Return of the Revenge of the Phantom Menace 3D”?

UPDATE: During a conference call, Disney CEO Bob Iger said, “The expectation is we’ll release 2 and 3 [‘Episode 8’ and ‘9’] … probably on a cadence on every other year [after 2015], and then go from there. … The film is what I’ll call early stage development right now.”

Posted by:Terri Schwartz