Hold on to your lightsabers. The house of Mouse is acquiring Geroge Lucas’ production company. In a deal that went down today, The Walt Disney Company agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction valued at $4.05 billion. In addition to acquiring Lucasfilm and all of its operating businesses including LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, Disney now also owns the rights to popular franchises like Indiana Jones and Star Wars.
In fact, what really shook people today is that Disney already has plans to expand the Star Wars universe by producing at least three more films in the saga. Kathleen Kennedy from Lucasfilm will transition into becoming the President of Lucasfilm and will report to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn; at her post she will serve as brand manager for Star Wars and executive producer of future Star Wars films. Star Wars Episode 7 is being targeted with a 2015 release. Disney CEO and Chairman Robert Iger lays out the framework: “In 2015, we’re planning to release Star Wars Episode 7 – the first feature film under the “Disney-Lucasfilm” brand. That will be followed by Episodes 8 and 9 – and our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years.” In addition handpicking Kennedy to run Lucasfilm under Disney, Star Wars creator George Lucas will serve as creative consultant on future films.
In a press release, Lucas discussed his decision to sell his production company and how important it is to him that Star Wars continues on into the future. “For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. 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.”
Production on Episode 7 is already in the early stages. Kennedy and Lucas are sitting down with writers and discussing the direction they want Star Wars to go next. Jump after the break to hear what they have to say on the matter.
Instant reactions to the news on Twitter are mixed. Some say they feel betrayed by Lucas for letting his prized franchise fall into different hands. Others express their sheer excitement and think it’s about time the franchise was injected with fresh ideas from new filmmakers. No matter where you stand, Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd. is huge news–from the development of new propertied media to merchandising new collectable products–and the acquisition is sure conjure up major fanfare in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
Update: Here’s a second video where you’ll hear from Disney’s Bob Iger and Lucas once more. At the very end of this clip you can watch Lucas sign his company away to Disney with the stroke of a pen.