Disney has confirmed that new Star Wars movies will be made, after buying Lucasfilm in a multi-billion dollar deal.

The Walt Disney Company announced that it acquired the George Lucas-founded firm for $4.05 billion in cash and stock, and confirmed that Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015.

Walt Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger revealed in a shareholder conference call that the studio also plans to release Episodes 8 and 9, saying: "Our long-term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years."

Kathleen Kennedy, currently Lucasfilm's co-chair, will become Lucasfilm's president as part of the deal.

Star Wars creator Lucas said in a statement: "For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. 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. I'm confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organisation, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come.

"Disney's reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products."

Earlier this year, Lucas said that he had retired from filmmaking and would not be involved in any more Star Wars feature films.