A decade after George Lucas said Star Wars was finished, a new trilogy is on the way.
The Walt Disney Company has announced it's buying Lucasfilm Ltd. from him for $US4.05 billion ($A3.94 billion) and a seventh movie, with a working title of Episode 7, is set for release in 2015. Episodes 8 and 9 will follow.
The trilogy will continue the story of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia beyond Return of the Jedi, the third film released and the sixth in the saga.
After that, Disney plans a new Star Wars movie every two or three years. Lucas will serve as creative consultant.
'I'm doing this so that the films will have a longer life,' Lucas, the 68-year-old creator of the series and sole owner of Lucasfilm, said in an interview posted on YouTube on Tuesday.
'I get to be a fan now ... I sort of look forward to it. It's a lot more fun actually, than actually having to go out into the mud and snow.'
Disney CEO Bob Iger said Lucasfilm had already developed an extensive story line on the next trilogy, and Episode 7 was now in early-stage development.
He said he talked with Lucas about buying the company from him a year and a half ago but they didn't decide on a deal until very recently as Lucas set in motion his retirement.
'The last Star Wars movie release was 2005's Revenge of the Sith - and we believe there's substantial pent-up demand,' Iger said.
The blockbuster deal will see Disney pay half the acquisition price in cash and half in newly issued stock. The company expects it to add to earnings in 2015.
Along with the cash, Lucas will end up owning about 40 million Disney shares, which is about a 2.2 per cent stake of the 1.83 billion shares that will be in circulation when the transaction closes.
The deal includes Lucasfilm's prized high-tech production companies, Industrial Light Magic and Skywalker Sound, as well as rights to the Indiana Jones franchise.
Lucas was hailed a cinematic visionary when the original Star Wars came out in 1977. But he had become an object of often-vicious ridicule by the time he released 3-D versions of all six films in the Star Wars franchise earlier this year.
Die-hard Star Wars fans had been vilifying Lucas for years, convinced he had become a commercial sell-out and had compounded his sins by desecrating the heroic tale he originally sought to tell.
They railed against him for adding grating characters such as Jar Jar Binks in the second trilogy and attacked him for tinkering with the original trilogy, too.
Any revision in special edition or home video releases - such as making the Ewoks blink or having a green-skinned alien named Greedo take the first shot at Han Solo in a famous bar scene - were treated as blasphemy.
The criticism grated on Lucas, who vowed never to make another Star Wars movie.
'Why would I make any more when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?' he told The New York Times earlier this year.
Kathleen Kennedy, the current co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become the division's president and report to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn.
She will serve as executive producer for the new movies. Directors for them haven't been announced.