It’s been announced today that The Walt Disney Company has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a transaction valued at $4.05 billion.
This acquisition adds Lucasfilm to Walt Disney’s other properties including Disney, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel and ABC, and is said to continue the company’s “strategic focus on creating and monetizing the world’s best branded content, innovative technology and global growth to drive long-term shareholder value.”
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm, George Lucas, said of the deal:
“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.”
Disney’s New Assets… and LucasArts’ Future?
Under the agreement, not only will Disney acquire Lucasfilm and the “evergreen” Star Wars franchise, but the company will also absorb “the substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies that have kept audiences enthralled for many years.”
This includes game development studio LucasArts, which is currently working on Star Wars 1313, with Activision acting as the publisher for that title. How Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm will affect the game’s development, and which publishing partner will bring the title to market, is unknown.
It is “the present intent” for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current positions, so no redundancies will take place in the short term.
Star Wars 7 and Beyond
According to Disney, the Star Wars 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.”
Disney and Lucasfilm is “already moving forward with plans to continue the epic Star Wars saga” with a planned 2015 release of Star Wars Episode 7, following on from 2005’s Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Episode 7 will be followed up by Episode 8 and Episode 9.
“[Our] long term plan,” says Disney, “is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years” following the release of this new series of Star Wars episodes.
George Lucas himself will remain on as creative consultant for the new Star Wars films, while Kathleen Kennedy, the current co-chair of Lucasfilm (and future President), will act as executive producer while reporting directly to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn.
Whoa. That’s a lot to take in. Once the news has settled in your mind, let us know what you think of the announcement, what you hope to see from the partnership, what you don’t want to see, and how you would handle the Star Wars franchise going forward.