Walt Disney buys LucasFilm in a £2.5bn deal that will pave the way for a seventh Star Wars film in 2015 and retain George Lucas as creative consultant.

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Disney bought LucasFilm and its Star Wars franchise in cash and stock, and plans to release at least three more films in the Star Wars sci-fi saga.

Although George Lucas [pictured above] has in the past denied plans for any new Star Wars movies, he said in a video interview released on Starwars.com that he had already created story treatments, outlining three more films as well as many other Star Wars story lines.

But the industry icon, known for exercising control over the most minute details of the fictional universe he created, intends to use the deal as a way of leaving the film industry.

"It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers," he said in a 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."

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. George Lucas

Mr Lucas will become the second-largest individual holder of Disney shares, with a 2.2 per cent stake. Disney will pay about half the purchase price in cash and issue about £25m shares at closing.

"This is one of the greatest entertainment properties of all time," said Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger.

The most recent Star Wars film was Revenge of the Sith in 2005.

Disney takeovers

The deal marks the third time in less than seven years that Disney has signed a massive deal to take over a beloved studio or character portfolio, as part of its strategy to acquire brands that can be stretched across TV, movies, theme parks and the internet.

In early 2006, Disney struck a deal to acquire Toy Story creator Pixar, and in the summer of 2009 it bought the comic book powerhouse Marvel.

Pixar was founded by Mr Lucas but sold for scrap to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who turned it into a much-celebrated hit-maker. Lucas had more success with Industrial Light and Magic, the pioneering digital technology company behind the special effects of many major Hollywood movies.

The next in the Star Wars series will be episode seven. Disney's long-term plan is to release a new movie in the series every two to three years thereafter, added Mr Iger.

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