Disney buys Lucasfilm and announces new Star Wars movie
Story by Jack Foley
DISNEY is buying Lucasfilm for a reported $4.05bn (£2.5 billion) and has immediately announced plans for a new Star Wars film.
Disney will pay about half in cash and half in stock, issuing 40 million Disney shares in the transaction.
The deal follows Disney’s acquisitions of Pixar studios for $7.4bn in 2006 and Marvel comics for $4.2bn in 2009, making them one of the biggest names in the global entertainment industry.
Kathleen Kennedy, the current co-chair of Lucasfilm, will become its president but will report to Walt Disney Studios chair Alan Horn
She will also serve as executive producer on the new Star Wars features, with the franchise’s creator and Lucasfilm founder George Lucas, 68, serving as creative consultant.
Disney unveiled plans to release a new Star Wars film every two or three years.
Commenting on his decision to sell, Lucas said in a statement: “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 chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a separate statement that the deal “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”.
He went on to say that the first new Star Wars movie is targeted for 2015 and that the aim is to release another movie every two to three years after that.
Disney currently release eight to 10 pictures every year, including one from Pixar and one or two from Marvel Studios.
The plan is for a Star Wars movie in one of those tentpole slots.
Lucasfilm is also the production company behind the Indiana Jones franchise (which is reportedly being lined up for a further film) and fantasy films Willow and Labyrinth.