It will be a day long remembered, the legacy of Star Wars has been secured, with the sale of Lucasfilm Ltd, including Skywalker Sound and Industrial, Light and Magic from George Lucas to Disney for approximately $4 billion made up of cash and stock holdings and the announcement of a new film, Episode VII, targeting a 2015 release date.
The future of Star Wars has been a little uncertain in recent years, specifically in the form of its future with the franchise at a cross road. Would the series quieten down and return to something closer to its form in the early 90’s, that is without new films on the horizon and with several expanded universe medium’s ticking over (comics, books), or would it be handed over for new films to be made.
The unexpected has happened, with Disney acquiring the company there will be new films with minimal involvement from George Lucas, and given time no involvement. For now it seems that George will remain a creative consultant on a new trilogy of films, one that he has written high level story treatments on which will specify the direction in which the film series will go.
Currently there have been no details revealed on what direction the new trilogy might take but the possibilities are endless, there is a mountain of expanded universe material that could be tapped into including the Thrawn trilogy, the Jedi Academy trilogy, the New Jedi Order series, the list goes on etc. Given how the prequel trilogy contradicted some of the existing expanded universe materials it’s likely that the current post-Return of the Jedi stories probably won’t factor into where the new trilogy goes, but time will tell and in the meantime speculate away!
Of course this announcement raises endless questions such as will Star Wars comics stay at Dark Horse? Star Wars is one of their longest running and most popular series but with Disney also owning Marvel it seems unlikely Dark Horse will retain the license. Recent history would indicate Marvel will take over, BOOM! studios used to publish Disney comics, but once Marvel became a part of the Disney family those agreements with BOOM! weren’t renewed and Marvel took over the properties. It’s difficult to imagine the same thing won’t happen to Dark Horse.
What about the Clone Wars animated series? Running into its fifth season the series is distributed by Warner Bros television, which is also affiliated with DC Comics, another partnership which is hard to envisage continuing under the new arrangements.
What is certain however is that in just a few years Star Wars will return to the big screen and the future of the franchise is wide open with Disney stating that the long term goal is for a new Star Wars film every two to three years. With Lucas providing some level of direction for a new trilogy only, we’d be looking at an entirely Lucas-less Star Wars film probably sometime around 2020 or shortly thereafter.
Star Wars aside of course there are other franchises to be impacted by this deal of course including Indiana Jones and Willow. Indiana Jones has been quiet since the release of the Crystal Skull, but this series is also likely to be revisited as part of Disney’s plan going forward.
We’ll discuss new details on the next trilogy of Star Wars films as they are revealed, for now however, 2015 can’t come fast enough. You can read the full press release on the acquisition below and a couple of videos one about Lucas and what’s going to happen with the Star Wars Movies and one of Disney annoucing the purchase.
DISNEY TO ACQUIRE LUCASFILM LTD.
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 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.
About The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with five business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, interactive media, and consumer products. Disney is a Dow 30 company with revenues of over $40 billion in its Fiscal Year 2011.
About Lucasfilm Ltd.
Founded by George Lucas in 1971, Lucasfilm is a privately held, fully-integrated entertainment company. In addition to its motion-picture and television production operations, the company’s global activities include Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, serving the digital needs of the entertainment industry for visual-effects and audio post-production; LucasArts, a leading developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software worldwide; Lucas Licensing, which manages the global merchandising activities for Lucasfilm’s entertainment properties; Lucasfilm Animation; and Lucas Online creates Internet-based content for Lucasfilm’s entertainment properties and businesses. Additionally, Lucasfilm Singapore, produces digital animated content for film and television, as well as visual effects for feature films and multi-platform games. Lucasfilm Ltd. is headquartered in San Francisco, California.