The Walt Disney Company is to buy Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion. Lucasfilm founder and CEO stays on as creative consultant, and Disney has announced a string of new Star Wars movies, with Episode 7 due in 2015.
Leading film producer Kathleen Kennedy, currently co-chairman of Lucasfilm, becomes the company’s new President, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn.
“I realised that at some point I needed to retire, and that I wanted to do other things – things in philanthropy and more experimental films – but that I couldn’t drag my company through that,” said Lucas.
“The first [potential home for Lucasfilm] I thought of was Disney. The match of what our two companies are is perfect. We’re like a mini-Disney.”
Good news for fans
The deal follows Disney’s buyouts of Pixar for $7.4 billion in 2006 and Marvel for $4.2 billion in 2009.
Disney has a good track record when it comes to nurturing the IP it acquires: although many feared the 2006 buyout would restrict Pixar’s creativity, it went on to release some of its most offbeat movies, including Up.
Marvel’s acquisition also coincided with a run of critical and box-office successes, including The Avengers.
Disney has already announced that it intends to make more Star Wars movies: Episode 7 is scheduled for release in 2015, with further films expected every two or three years.
Less good news for artists?
The deal sees Disney acquire the other Lucasfilm companies, including LucasArts and Industrial Light & Magic.
Here, its track record is less good. While Disney has a long history of acquiring games developers, it has most recently made headlines for closing them, shutting both Propaganda Games and Black Rock Studio in 2011.
Its previous major acquisition in the field of visual effects, Dream Quest Images – subsequently rebranded The Secret Lab – lasted six years before being shut down in 2002.
However, Variety reports that Disney is reassuring the industry that it is “business as usual” for ILM.
And with effects duties for Star Wars movies traditionally being handled in-house, that looks likely to be true for the world’s best-known VFX studio, at least in the short term.
More analysis of the Disney-Lucasfilm buyout:
“They’re so good at working with existing intellectual property.”
The BBC discusses Disney’s track record in building franchises in popular culture
“Star Wars is a perfect property for TV.”
The Hollywood Reporter discusses Disney’s probable expansion of the Star Wars brand
“Disney is likely to leave ILM alone – as long as the numbers work.”
Variety discusses Disney’s track record in visual effects
Tags: acquisition, Bob Iger, buyout, deal, Disney, Episode 7, games, George Lucas, ILM, Industrial Light & Magic, Lucasarts, Lucasfilm, movies, star wars, The Walt Disney Comany, vfx, videogames, visual effects