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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Walt Disney Company agreed Tuesday to buy Lucasfilm in a stock-and-cash deal valued at $4 billion.
The deal will make Lucasfilm owner George Lucas a significant shareholder in Disney, which will pay for the film company with $2 billion cash and around 40 million shares of its stock.
The takeover will give Disney ontrol of Lucasfilm's blockbuster Star Wars franchise, which encompasses both filmed productions and a massive merchandising operation. Disney will also absorb Lucasfilm's special-effects production business, Industrial Light and Magic, and its Skywalker Sound audio production studio.
"It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers," George Lucas said in a written statement. "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."
Lucas said he will work as a creative consultant on Star Wars Episode 7, the first of a planned new trilogy of live-action Star Wars movies. It is targeted for release in 2015, Disney said.
"The film is in what I'll call early-stage development right now," Disney CEO Bob Iger said on a conference call with analysts.
Disney hopes to essentially relaunch the Star Wars film franchise, which had its last installment in 2005 with Revenge of the Sith. The company envisions releasing one new Star Wars movie every two to three years.