Disney Buying Lucasfilm, New STAR WARS Film Planned

Founder and Editor; Toronto, Canada (@AnarchistTodd)
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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Mickey Mouse owned every favorite character from your childhood. Disney already has Marvel in their stable and now word comes that they are moving to purchases Lucasfilm in a deal worth more than four billion dollars.

The irony here, of course, is that there's a fighting chance Disney will handle the Star Wars universe with more respect than Lucas himself has in recent years. Sure, they'll market the hell out of it, but it's not like George hasn't done that for decades ...

According to a report at Variety, included in the deal are plans for a new Star Wars film, with Episode Seven planned for a 2015 release. Does this mean we'll see Lucas' long talked about third trilogy actually come to fruition? Is there a Pixar Star Wars film in the future? Does Disney's ownership of ABC mean that we will soon see the planned live action television series turn up there? Time will tell. Here is the full press release:

Global leader in high-quality family entertainment agrees to acquire world-renowned Lucasfilm Ltd, including legendary STAR WARS franchise.

Acquisition continues Disney's strategic focus on creating and monetizing the world's best branded content, innovative technology and global growth to drive long-term shareholder value.

Lucasfilm to join company's global portfolio of world class brands including Disney, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel and ABC.

STAR WARS: EPISODE 7 feature film targeted for release in 2015.

Burbank, CA and San Francisco, CA, October 30, 2012 - Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.

Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.

"Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas," said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. "This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney's unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value."

"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. "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 organization, 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."

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, a leader in entertainment, innovation and technology, including its massively popular and "evergreen" Star Wars franchise and its operating businesses in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production. Disney will also acquire the substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies that have kept audiences enthralled for many years. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, and the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations.

Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm, will become President of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney's global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise. Ms. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.

The acquisition combines two highly compatible family entertainment brands, and strengthens the long-standing beneficial relationship between them that already includes successful integration of Star Wars content into Disney theme parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Tokyo.

Driven by a tremendously talented creative team, Lucasfilm's legendary Star Wars franchise has flourished for more than 35 years, and offers a virtually limitless universe of characters and stories to drive continued feature film releases and franchise growth over the long term. Star Wars resonates with consumers around the world and creates extensive opportunities for Disney to deliver the content across its diverse portfolio of businesses including movies, television, consumer products, games and theme parks. Star Wars feature films have earned a total of $4.4 billion in global box to date, and continued global demand has made Star Wars one of the world's top product brands, and Lucasfilm a leading product licensor in the United States in 2011. The franchise provides a sustainable source of high quality, branded content with global appeal and is well suited for new business models including digital platforms, putting the acquisition in strong alignment with Disney's strategic priorities for continued long-term growth.

The Lucasfilm acquisition follows Disney's very successful acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel, which demonstrated the company's unique ability to fully develop and expand the financial potential of high quality creative content with compelling characters and storytelling through the application of innovative technology and multiplatform distribution on a truly global basis to create maximum value. Adding Lucasfilm to Disney's portfolio of world class brands significantly enhances the company's ability to serve consumers with a broad variety of the world's highest-quality content and to create additional long-term value for our shareholders.

The Boards of Directors of Disney and Lucasfilm have approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions. The agreement has been approved by the sole shareholder of Lucasfilm.

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RobiOctober 30, 2012 4:44 PM

Wow. It can't be worse than how Lucasfilm treated the franchise!

Jason GorberOctober 30, 2012 4:46 PM

Couple things still pending:

• Still unclear whether ILM is part of the deal - it probably should be, but unsure if it was made explicit. If so, that means three separate theatrical animation divisions (along with PIXAR and Disney) under the same umbrella.

• LUCASFILM should own the Indiana Jones characters outright, but it's unclear exactly how that plays out as well. Clear that YOUNG INDY stuff might make a better play under Disney

• Would be very surprised if Episode 7 was animated, but not quite as surprise that there's an announced movie at all. TV, be it the live action or the Clone Wars series, I thought would be the extent of it, with the six standing as the only theatrical contributions. That's by far the most shocking part of the announcement for me, not the sale to WDC

Jason GorberOctober 30, 2012 4:54 PM

Continuing reports show that all the technical companies (Skywalker Sound, etc.) are part of the deal.

Fabian Van EngenOctober 30, 2012 5:14 PM

Something was up for a while. Del Rey suddenly cancelled new SW Literature earlier this year, and at present no books have been announced for next year. In the SW games things have also been unclear, with little about the future of SWTOR and hardly anything on SW1313. Disney is rather conservative, and LucasFilm has been progressive in their Expanded Universe, with attention for women, lgbtq and minorities and social issues in literature and games. I hope Disney will not set the future of the franchise in a conservative christian pg13 setting, that would undoubtedly attract commercial succes, but also to a loss of the older fanbase.
The official press release on the Walt Disney Company website states Disney will expand the SW franchise in its Parks and Resorts and on all its other media, including television. It doesn't mention the Clone Wars or a possible live action series specifically. It also mentions producing a SW feature film every 2 to 3 years. So expect SW films at least till EP9, if not EP12.

All in all, a mixed announcement IMHO.

Fabian Van EngenOctober 30, 2012 5:35 PM

George Lucas talks about the future of SW with Disney on youtube.

gozuOctober 30, 2012 6:07 PM

This is great. There's obviously a lot of people at Disney (especially at Pixar) who clearly have been influenced by "Star Wars" and there's a real chance of salvaging the legacy of those films with a new trilogy created by enthusiastic fans who might also happen to be better/more dynamic filmmakers. The only real loser seems to be Fox.

Hiroaki JohnsonOctober 30, 2012 6:34 PM

I wonder if that will impact the possibility of ILM doing another animated film.

tman418October 31, 2012 5:43 PM

I guess Mark Hamill will get his first non voice-of-Joker paycheck since 1983!

ZinjoNovember 5, 2012 8:19 PM

So does this mean if we start a campaign to get the original trilogy restored and released on BD someone MIGHT listen? GL's assertion that the original have been destroyed is bullshit.

We need to get the mouse to cough up the goods!