Lucasfilm, the company behind Star Wars, has agreed to be bought by Disney in a surprise deal worth $4.05bn. In addition to the deal, Disney announced that there will be another trilogy of the Star Wars series, with the first film arriving in 2005.
In a statement, the man behind Star Wars, George Lucas, said: "It's now time for me to pass 'Star Wars' on to a new generation of filmmakers."
"Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas," said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. "This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney's unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value."
Lucas will become the second-largest individual holder of Disney shares in the deal, holding a 2.2 percent stake.
As imagined, the reaction by the steadfastly loyal Star Wars fan base has been divisive.
Many fans have taken to Twitter to deride the coupling of Lucasfilm and Disney with a variety of axes to grind.
Although the series has gone on to earn $27 billion, there was widespread dissatisfaction with the series of prequels released between 1999 and 2005, and fans are worried about getting burned again. Fans were also disappointed with re-releases of the old films that had scenes rewritten, such as editing a scene with Han Solo to make it look like he was firing in self defence.
Additionally, Lucas had previously told Total Film magazine that there would not be any more films in the massively successively franchise, saying in 2008: "I've left pretty explicit instructions for there not to be any more features. There will definitely be no Episodes VII-IX."
Fans expressed messages of discontent, with some accusing Lucas of “selling out” the franchise to the House of Mouse.
Former Star Wars actors are chiming in positively to the news. Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the original films, said: “I have no doubt Disney will respect and continue the legacy of Lucasfilm. I have worked with Disney for many years during their Star Wars Weekends Celebration and seen how much they love the films and the fans.”
Ahmed Best, the voice of widely despised Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks, said, "George has always been a hero and a mentor. I am happy that the saga will continue."
Daniel Logan, the young Boba Fett in Episode II, added: "I think Disney acquiring Lucasfilm is a wonderful thing! There are exciting times ahead for Star Wars fans!”
And Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels, tweeted, “Disney have bought Lucasfilm and are planning on releasing Star Wars ep 7 in 2015!!"
"Congrats George and best of luck with whatever is next. Wonder if they will need any Obi-Wan Hologram action?"