Stunning news coming out of California today will have some diehard Star Wars fanatics thinking George Lucas has capitulated to the Dark Side: the Walt Disney Company has acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, giving the entertainment giant control of the Star Wars franchise. Additionally, Disney has announced plans to release Star Wars: Episode VII in 2015, with episodes VIII and IX to follow in subsequent years. "For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," said Star Wars creator George Lucas in a statement. "It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. 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 says he and new Disney studios president Kathleen Kennedy, who will executive produce the new Star Wars films, have already begun work on the films with an unspecified group of writers. Naturally, the deal also includes plans to incorporate Star Wars characters into Disney's theme park and TV properties. Check out video featuring the official announcement of the deal from Bob Iger, Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, as well as George Lucas' official statement.