Outer space epic Star Wars is set to become an annual event, with new films slated to emerge annually beginning in 2015.

Disney, which gained the iconic film franchise through its $4 billion US purchase of Lucasfilm, has announced that it will kick-off the upcoming slate with Star Wars: Episode VII, directed by buzz filmmaker J.J. Abrams.

The studio will then alternate spinoff films about key characters or stories set in the Star Wars universe and further instalments of the main saga, with one movie set for release each year.

Disney chair Alan Horn revealed the news in Las Vegas Wednesday during the annual CinemaCon convention for movie theatre owners.

Abrams, who successfully rebooted the Star Trek film franchise, is working on his forthcoming Star Wars script with screenwriter Michael Arndt.

Meanwhile, the spinoff films are being penned by Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote the screenplay for 1980's The Empire Strikes Back and 1983's Return of the Jedi, and Simon Kinberg, who wrote X-Men: The Last Stand. There has been speculation that the spinoffs will explore the back stories of characters such as Jedi Master Yoda.