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The Force is with them

Disney's $4 billion deal for Lucasfilm and "Star Wars" just keeps getting better for the House of Mouse.

The company is banking on the latest installments, "The Last Jedi" in December and a Han Solo movie in May, to drive people to theatres. But that's far from the end of money-making opportunities from Han Solo, R2-D2, Kylo Ren and Rey. In fact, CEO Bob Iger said Thursday that the company is now planning a brand-new "Star Wars" trilogy, which will be the fourth in the franchise.

Disney has drawn big profits from the strengths of its TV channels — namely ESPN — but that growth is challenged as more people dump cable subscriptions. As people turn to online replacements such as Netflix, Disney is hoping to lure them with a streaming service planned for 2019. "Star Wars" movies will be a big part of that; so will a new "Star Wars" series Iger also announced Thursday.

Disney also wants to squeeze cash from "Star Wars" fans in the forms of toys and, theme park visits and hotel stays.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens," released in December 2015, pulled in more than $2 billion in worldwide ticket sales, trailing only "Avatar" and "Titanic" as the bestselling theatrical release ever (without adjusting for inflation). It also bumped up home entertainment revenue from DVD sales. "Rogue One," last year's installment, made over $1 billion in global box-office revenue.

"The Last Jedi" will continue from where "Force" left off. Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson has a "somewhat conservative" estimate of $1.9 billion in box-office haul for the film. He also expects the latest "Avengers" installment to bring in $1.3 billion.



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