These days, Darth Vader is serving a new master: Mickey Mouse.

Yesterday, the Walt Disney Corporation announced that it has purchased Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4.05 billion. The purchased also included Industrial Light and Sound as well as the rights to the "Star Wars" franchise. Almost immediately after the purchase, Disney announced that it plans to release a new Star Wars movie in 2015.

A decade since George Lucas said "Star Wars" was finished on the big screen, a new trilogy under new ownership is destined for theaters after The Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday that it would buy Lucasfilm Ltd. from him for $4.05 billion.

The 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 in the new movies.

"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. "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 storyline 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.

Reaction to the news has been mixed. While some fans are calling foul and dreading the possibilities of a Disney/Star Wars mash-up, ("When You Wish Upon A Death Star" was one of the funnier possibilities I saw) others see it as a chance for the franchise to be reinvigorated and brought back for the better. Lucas himself said earlier this year that he would not be making any more Star Wars movies, but he will serve as creative consultant for the new films.

Speaking from a fan's perspective, I was more surprised than anything else when I heard the news yesterday. Sure, there's always the concern that Disney could completely wreck the franchise, but I really don't think that's going to happen. Disney and Lucasfilm have worked together before just fine. And despite the fan fears, it doesn't look like Marvel has suffered too badly since Disney took the reins back in 2009. I could see this being a good thing for the franchise, but for now, I'm remaining "cautiously optimistic."