George Lucas sells off the Star Wars Empire

When George Lucas announced he was retiring, many Star Wars fans figured that would be it for the franchise.

He finally came back with a new movie, Red Tails, which didn’t do so well. Meanwhile the Star Wars movies had been out of the theaters for some time, although there was still some movement on the Clone Wars cartoon.

As it turns out, Disney has snapped up the Lucas empire for a cool $4.05 billion. Disney CEO Bob Iger and Lucas himself broke down the deal in a video statement.

“In addition to getting the rights to one of the greatest family franchises and epic stories of all time, Disney is also acquiring all of Lucasfims operating business including Industrial Light and Magic and Skywalker Sound. The Star Wars universe now has more than 17,000 characters inhabiting several thousand planets, spanning twenty-thousand years. This gives Disney infinite inspiration and opportunities to continue the epic Star Wars saga.”

With Marvel, Pixar, and the addition of Lucasfilm under the Disney umbrella “it will further our growth strategy, and create even more opportunity for Disney to drive significant long term value for our shareholders.”

Lucas said he was a lifelong fan of Disney, and was thinking about retiring for the last four years. “I wanted to go on and do other things in philanthropy and experimental films, and didn’t want to drag my company into that.” Before he could retire, Lucas wanted “a good solid home” for Lucasfilm, “and the first place I thought (of) was Disney. They’re large enough, and the match of what our companies are is just perfect. We’re like a mini-Disney.”

Most surprising is the announcement that there’s going to be another Star Wars film, Episode Seven, which is slated to hit theaters in 2015. While this news just broke today, you know this is going to be chum in the water for the Lucas haters. Undoubtedly they’ll say just because you can make more Star Wars films doesn’t mean that you should. Not having Lucas write and direct is a good start, they should have done that with the prequels, but what else is there really to say with the Star Wars series? 

Of course, there won’t just be one new Star Wars film, there will be three total: Episodes Seven, Eight and Nine. But even if there’s never another Star Wars film, like Harry Potter, it will continue to make a ton of money on its own momentum. Can the Star Wars series be reinvented with new blood, or is this just another cynical cash grab? We know what the Lucas haters already think, and even with its legendary history, the new Star Wars films will have a long ways to go to prove themselves to the fans.