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Mickey Mouse and Darth Vader join forces

A blockbuster deal for the company that virtually invented the modern blockbuster film franchise. Walt Disney agreed to a 4 billion dollar cash and stock deal to buy George Lucas's Lucasfilm and its Star Wars franchise. Soon after, Disney announced plans for at least three more Star Wars films. The successful suitor Robert Iger, who serves as President and CEO of Disney, seemed smitten. SOUNDBITE: ROBERT IGER, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF WALT DISNEY COMPANY, SAYING (English): "We're thrilled that George has entrusted the future of his extraordinary legacy to the Walt Disney Company, and recognize what an honour it is. We truly understand the responsibility that comes with being the caretakers of such iconic characters that are beloved by hundreds of millions all over the world." George Lucas sounded equally enthusiastic. SOUNDBITE: DIRECTOR GEORGE LUCAS, SAYING (English) : "It was a perfect match of two companies that are constructed similarly, do the same kind of product, and I think it'll give me a chance to go off and explore my own interests and at the same time, feel completely confident that Disney will take good care of the franchise I've built." The rationale for the deal may be glaring for the two people who hatched it, but it came as a massive surprise to many in the industry. Lisa Richwine covers the entertainment business for Reuters. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER LISA RICHWINE, SAYING: "This deal was a huge surprise and no one had heard an inkling. We knew that Disney had a lot of money and may be looking to acquire something. But, the name of George Lucas looking to sell his company is something that never came up. That was a surprise and the 4 billion dollar was an eye-popping number." Sales of Star Wars merchandise still generate 215 million dollars per year, though the last film came out in 2005. And no-one understands better the power of enduring characters and storylines than the home of Mickey Mouse and Snow White.

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