"It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers," George Lucas said in a written statement. "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 said he will work as a creative consultant on Star Wars Episode 7, the first of a planned new trilogy of live-action Star Wars movies. It is targeted for release in 2015, Disney said.
"The film is in what I'll call early-stage development right now," Disney CEO Bob Iger said on a conference call with analysts. Lucas did not join him on the call.
Disney hopes to essentially relaunch the Star Wars film franchise, which had its last installment in 2005 with Revenge of the Sith. Following the three planned sequels, the company envisions releasing even more Star Wars movies at a rate of a new film every two to three years.
Future movies may not be sequels but movies that focus on fringe characters. Disney also believes there is potential for a television series.
"Disney respects and understands -- perhaps better than anyone else -- the importance of iconic characters," Iger said.