The Force is strong with Mickey Mouse, apparently. In a landmark media deal, Disney has agreed to pay $4.05 billion to buy Lucasfilm, the owner of the Star Wars properties.
Disney will also purchase LucasArts, the video game development arm of Lucasfilm.
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” George Lucas, the chairman and CEO of Lucasfilm, said in a statement. “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.”
The most interesting part of the deal, as far as we can see, is the announcement of Star Wars: Episode 7, which is slated for a release in 2015. Episodes 8 and 9 will follow that film. Disney writes in its announcement (emphasis our own):
The last Star Wars movie release was 2005’s Revenge of the Sith – and we believe there’s substantial pent-up demand. In 2015, we’re planning to release Star Wars: Episode 7 – the first feature film under the “Disney-Lucasfilm” brand. That will be followed by Episodes 8 and 9 – and our long-term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years. We’re very happy that George Lucas will be creative consultant on our new Star Wars films and that Kathleen Kennedy, the current co-chair of Lucasfilm, will executive produce. George handpicked Kathy earlier this year to lead Lucasfilm into the future. She’ll join Disney as president of Lucasfilm, reporting into Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn and integrating and building the Star Wars franchise across our company.
Disney is clearly excited about the cash-and-stock deal, one that closely resembles its purchase of Marvel three years ago for $4 billion.
“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said Robert Iger, the chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, in a statement. “This transaction 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.”
This deal makes Disney one of the most massive players in the media space. On top of Marvel and Lucasfilm, Disney also owns ABC, ESPN, and Pixar.
Photo illustration: Tom Cheredar/VentureBeat