The Mouse Buys the Wookie: Disney Acquires Lucasfilm, Plans More "Star Wars" Films
By Kenneth Jones
When Disney buys the characters who populate the "Star Wars" franchise, can a Broadway musical set in "a galaxy far, far away" be far behind?
The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm Ltd., the creative house behind the "Star Wars" empire, in a stock and cash transaction, the companies announced on Oct. 30. Lucasfilm is 100 percent owned by Lucasfilm chairman and founder, George Lucas, who gets $2 billion in cash in the transaction. He's the man who created the world of the 1977 film blockbuster "Star Wars" and its five sequels.
According to a statement, "Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on Oct. 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."
There has been no explicit mention of a "Star Wars" Broadway show along the lines of Disney's stage adaptations of Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King or Newsies, but 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," according to the company.
More chapters in the "Star Wars" film series will be produced in the future. "Star Wars Episode 7" will be released in 2015.
"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see 'Star Wars' passed from one generation to the next," Lucas, chairman and chief executive officer of Lucasfilm, said. "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."
With the deal, 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; the 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. 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.
"Star Wars" feature films have earned a total of $4.4 billion in global box to date.
The Lucasfilm acquisition follows Disney's acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel.
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