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Holy guacamole! Here’s an industry news shocker that’s breaking around the newswires as we speak: Walt Disney Studios has just announced that they’ve purchased George Lucas’ Lucasfilm Ltd for an estimated $4.05 billion. This includes the rights to the Star Wars franchise among other properties. What’s more, Disney has announced that they plan to make at least one and maybe several new Star Wars sequels, beginning with the release of Episode VII in 2015! WOW.
Here’s a quote from the original announcement: “Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger in a release announcing the deal. “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.”
Just when you thought the Star Wars franchise had been milked right into the ground, the cycle begins anew. There’s obviously going to be TONS of additional details and coverage of this breaking news in the hours, days and weeks ahead, so we’ll check back here with updates as more information comes in. Meanwhile, additional details can be found at Deadline Hollywood and Variety.
UPDATE – 1PM: We’re hearing that the deal also includes Lucasfilm’s technology companies – LucasArts, Industrial Light + Magic and Skywalker Sound. It MAY also include Lucas’ share of the Indiana Jones franchise as well, which would make Disney a partner with Paramount on future projects. Additional stories here at the L.A. Times and Hollywood Reporter.
Statement by George Lucas: “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.”
UPDATE – 3 PM: Here are new and updated details on this deal from the official Disney investors’ conference call this afternoon:
- Deal signed and announced earlier today – includes Star Wars franchise and all Lucasfilm operating businesses.
- Indiana Jones franchise rights ARE also included in this deal.
- Disney loves the Indiana Jones franchise, but it wasn't included in the studio’s Lucasfilm valuation due to its “encumbrances” (meaning existing financial/legal involvement of Paramount).
- First project under the joint under Disney/Lucas partnership will be Star Wars: Episode 7 in 2015, followed by Episode 8 and Episode 9.
- Disney purchased “extensive and detailed” treatment for Episodes 7-9 as part of this deal which they “feel very good about.”
- Disney long term plan is to release a new live-action Star Wars film every 2-3 years – films may eventually explore entire 20,000 year time-span of the franchise.
- It’s Lucas’ plan to stay retired, but he will serve as creative consultant on new Star Wars films. Kathleen Kennedy will executive produce. Both are now sitting down with writers to discuss stories.
- Fox retains certain distribution rights to the existing Star Wars films but not the new franchise films going forward.
- Kennedy will serve as Lucasfilm president, reporting to Bob Iger at Disney.
- Disney plans to expand Star Wars brand into many new product categories and internationally.
- Star Wars brand will also be expanded into Disney parks, games and TV businesses.
- Iger feels Disney XD would be a good TV home for the franchise going forward.
- Star Wars interactive strategy: Disney will focus more on social and mobile platforms, opportunistically on consoles.
- Deal was 50% cash and 50% stock – $4.05 billion
- Disney believes Lucasfilm value is comparable to value of Marvel, but valuation is only based on Star Wars alone – value of other Lucasfilm intellectual properties are in addition to this.
- Disney plans to let ILM continue operating as it currently does.
NEW VIDEO: George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy discuss the future of Star Wars at Disney…
Whew! Stay tuned…
- Bill Hunt