On Tuesday George Lucas, best known as the creator of the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones,” series sold his privately owned company Lucasfilm ltd. to The Walt Disney Company for $4.05 billion. The transaction will be paid half in cash and half in stock to George Lucas. In the same hour it was announced that he would act as creative consultant for the next “Star Wars” trilogy which will start with Episode 7 in 2015.
Plans for future movies were outlined in a press release by Disney.
“[Kathleen] Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new ‘Star Wars’ feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. ‘Star Wars Episode 7’ will be released in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the ‘Star Wars’ saga. It was detailed further that episodes will follow every other year after the release of Episode 7.”
Not only did Disney acquire the rights and royalties to all “Star Wars” movie deals and merchandise, but they also gained the effects studios Industrial Light and Magic and Skywalker Sound, which were owned by Lucasfilm ltd. They also gained control of LucasArts, which makes all licensed “Star Wars” videogames. The plan right now is for these studios and their employees to stay in their current locations and continue operating normally under the new management.
George Lucas said that he would never make another “Star Wars” movie, but it appears he is doing this to preserve the brand. George Lucas said in an interview, “I am doing this so the films will have a longer life, so 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 sitting in there.”
Disney has a lot of material to work with in the “Star Wars” universe. There are over 17,000 characters, over 1,000 planets and lore spanning 20,000 years. There are hundreds of books, comics, television shows and videogames to draw inspiration from and according to George Lucas Disney is where his franchise can thrive. He said, “I get to be a fan now.”
The franchise will not be left without direction. According to the press release, “Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm ltd., will become President of Lucasfilm ltd., reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for ‘Star Wars.’”
This purchase follows the purchase of Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for another $4 billion, and the purchase of Pixar in 2006 for $7.4 billion. 2015 promises to be a big year for Disney with the release of “Star Wars Episode 7” and “The Avengers 2.” But after that, who knows? Maybe Luke Skywalker and Tony Stark will battle it out in an epic Pixar animated motion picture.
By: Sean Burke