So, the really big news today came late in the day when it was announced that the Walt Disney Company had purchased Lucasfilm for a little over $4 billion dollars. Lucasfilm, which was founded by George Lucas, is the home of the Star Wars films (and everything associated with Star Wars), the Indiana Jones films, the 80′s classic film Labyrinth and much, much more. And as if that news alone wasn’t big enough, we also learn today that a 7th Star Wars film will be released in 2015! As you may recall, Disney purchased the Marvel Comics company back in 2010 and then The Jim Henson Company as well. With Lucasfilm in their possession, Disney know owns pretty much all of the most popular characters that exist in modern popular culture … and they managed to buy the company for a “measly” $4 billion! If you consider that they paid $7 billion for Pixar, it’s easy to see how they managed to “steal” Lucasfilm. Click below for a lot of information about this sale … from the official press release announcement, to video of George Lucas explaining why he sold his company and more! Read on!
The Walt Disney Company has acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in cash and stock, and announced a new Star Wars movie to be released in 2015. Kathleen Kennedy, current co-chair of Lucasfilm, will become Lucasfilm’s president, reporting to Walt Disney Studios chair Alan Horn as part of stock and cash transaction.
And here is the official press release announcement from Disney:
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.
Here are the reported deets about Star Wars: Episode 7 … due out in 2015:
So, Disney bought Lucasfilm today. Significant! But here is the really, really crazy thing: In the release announcing the acquisition, buried in the sixth paragraph, comes this huge announcement: “[New Lucasfilm president Kathleen] 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” … Lucas had teased the idea of Episodes 7, 8, and 9 a long, long time ago, but after the prequels came out, little was said about mounting yet another trilogy (and, in fact, it’s unclear whether this new installment will kick off a new trilogy or follow the progeny of Han and Leia or what). But … yeah. Did Lucasfilm kickstart these new movies in attempt to goose their value before Disney bought the company? Who knows, but you’re getting Star Wars Episode 7. Let that sink in.
And here is video of George Lucas explaining his decision to sell:
“I felt that i really wanted to put the company somewhere in a larger entity which could protect it. Disney is a huge corporation. They have all kinds of capabilities and facilities, so that there’s a lot of strength that is gained by this … I’m doing this so that the films will have a longer life, and so that more fans and people can enjoy them in the future. It’s a very big universe I’ve created and there are a lot of stories that are sitting in there.”
So … there’s a lot to take in all at once. Honestly, I think this is great news … I know it’s early and we can’t know for sure but Disney is a great company. They’ve done excellent work with both Marvel and Henson and I suspect they’ll do great work with Lucasfilm as well. Some people may bristle at the idea of a new series of Star Wars films but, again, Disney knows what they are doing. Can you imagine a new set of films that will reignite love for the Star Wars universe in a whole new generation of children AND reverent love and attention being paid to the classic characters we already know and love? I dunno, I just think this will be a windfall for fans. We may get a Star Wars theme park some day … one that is just as high quality as the Disney theme parks are. OMG, I can’t even imagine. The only thing that is surprising to me is that Lucasfilm sold for $4 billion dollars. I mean, that’s a lot of money but it’s far less than what Disney paid for Pixar … and it’s only 4 times the cost of an app like Instagram! All those amazing Lucasfilm characters for $4 billion? Yeah, Disney got the sweet end of that deal. It sounds like George Lucas is just ready to be done working … and he wanted to sell to a company that would really foster and care for his lifetime of work. This deal sounds damn good to me. Only time will tell but I’m gonna go on record to say that this will be an amazing boon for fans in the long run.