Disney buys Star Wars maker Lucasfilm from George Lucas

 

George Lucas signs away his Star Wars empire to Disney's Robert Iger

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Disney is buying Lucasfilm, the company behind the Star Wars films, from its chairman and founder George Lucas for $4.05bn (£2.5bn).

Mr Lucas said: "It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of film-makers."

In a statement announcing the purchase, Disney said it planned to release a new Star Wars film, episode seven, in 2015.

That will be followed by episodes eight and nine and then one new movie every two or three years, the company said.

The last Star Wars film was 2005's Revenge of the Sith, and Disney said it believed there was "substantial pent-up demand".

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Some fans are up in arms at the 'House of Mouse' getting its hands on a series that left such an indelible mark on their collective imaginations. ”

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James Burns, founder of fansite Jedi News in the UK, said: "It is fantastic that we are going to be seeing more Star Wars films as George Lucas has said many times that there wouldn't be any more."

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.

"Our valuation of Lucasfilm is roughly comparable to the value we placed on Marvel when we announced that acquisition in 2009," Disney said, adding that the valuation was almost entirely driven by the Star Wars franchise.

Transition

George Lucas launched Lucasfilm in 1971 and the first Star Wars film was released in 1977.

"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," Mr Lucas said.

"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."

Mr Lucas will continue as a creative consultant.

Kathleen Kennedy, currently co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become president of the firm and will be the executive producer on the new Star Wars films.

She worked on the Jurassic Park and Back to the Future franchises and co-founded Amblin Entertainment with Steven Spielberg.

When the later Star Wars films were released in the 1990s and 2000s, although they did well at the box office, they were generally not well-received by fans.

But Josh Dickey, film editor at Variety magazine in LA, said that Disney was a "great fit" to update Star Wars.

"They're so good at branding and brands. They're so good at working with existing intellectual property and making it resonate with fans and marketing it very well," he told BBC World Service radio.

"They're not as good at creating original content, except for their Pixar division.

"I think if you bring together the minds from Pixar [and] the minds from Disney, the news that Disney is going to reboot Star Wars was a lot more exciting to fans than just 'there's gonna be another Star Wars'."

Jedi fans "really, really excited"

Surprise

Lucasfilm is also the production company behind the Indiana Jones franchise, and fantasy films Willow and Labyrinth.

Michael Corty, analyst at Morning Star, said Disney's deal was clearly part of a pattern in buying new franchises.

"Pixar was the first big one, then Marvel, and now this one here," he said.

"Because Lucas is private, I would assume most investors would be surprised."

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 327.

    I agree that Disney do already own more than necessary. However they may be able to do some justice to another post-trilogy, they are just going to have to be very careful not to ruin the creative talents of the original three. Most of the original three movies were actually filmed in the UK, so who knows with Disney possibly buying part of Pinewood, it could be good for the UK movie industry.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 313.

    I am hopeful for the new films, but Disney need to understand that Star Wars is more than just 6 films, it is a plethora of comics, games and novels that are between, before and after the movies. Respecting this work is a paramount if they hope to be successful.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 312.

    I think it's unfair to criticise something that hasn't even been made yet. You can understand both sides; Disney has a reputation to make films childish, but then again, if you look at the plots, how is kidnapping princesses childlike? I hope the new films will be a big success and prove the doubters wrong.

  • rate this
    +18

    Comment number 169.

    Disney own too much already, they've gone from being a wonderfully creative film company to a money grubbing, soul-less giant.

    Luckily, Star Wars is well past its sell by date. The recent trilogy was a mixed bag and there's no obvious story line progression from Return of the Jedi other than having the empire re-appear. Knowing Disney the empire will keep reappearing more times than the daleks.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 155.

    I am a Star Wars nerd, and I'm laughing at some of these comments. If you don't want to see it, if you think the franchise (!) will be devalued, avoid it. Ultimately, they were kids' films with a darker side and now it's been handed over to a company with a history of making kids' films. They can't take away the first 3, so why not just wait and see? Remember, Episode 4 was expected to bomb.

 

Comments 5 of 12

 

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