On Tuesday afternoon of last week, Disney completed another coup in the world of entertainment as they purchased LucasFilm for $4.05 billion in cash and stocks. There are two key things in this deal. George Lucas was sole owner of LucasFilm, so he gets all the cash and stock, and the second part is that Disney now owns Star Wars.
Disney, in the course of six years’ time has acquired Pixar, Marvel and now LucasFilm, three of the most prolific movie studios currently operating worldwide. Five times since 1995 a film from one of these studios has released the top grossing film of the year, and 18 of the 23 major movie releases from the three studios have finished in the top 5 for box office receipts in the year they came out.
During the press conference to announce the purchase, Disney CEO Bob Iger also announced that Star Wars 7 is in an early stage of production and is expected to be released in 2015, and that plans are already mapped out, with input from Lucas, for 8 and 9 to follow every 2-3 years after that.
And the fun doesn’t end there; Disney also plans to continue releasing Star Wars movies every 2-3 years after the third trilogy is complete as well. In the expanded Star Wars universe, there are many, many stories that can be adapted to feature films, and with this deal, expect some of those to get made.
Now, this deal also includes the Indiana Jones property, although it was not the cornerstone that Star Wars was for the deal. The only issue Disney will have going forward is the existing deals that LucasFilm had with 20th Century Fox for distribution of Star Wars and Paramount for distribution of Indiana Jones, but as Disney and Paramount have already figured out how to make deals in the case of Marvel Studios, I don’t expect a lot of headaches moving forward, I just wonder if we will get an Indiana Jones 5 anytime soon.
Many continue to worry about the quality of movie that Disney may put out under the LucasFilm brand, and I simply point them to The Avengers. Disney knew well enough to just leave Marvel Studios alone and we got one of the best and one of the most popular movies in recent memory out of the deal. I would also point people to other movies that Disney has made in the past, such as Armageddon and Tombstone. Most people don’t even know that those movies are Disney ones, but they are, and they are damned good movies.
Disney generally has a policy of leaving a studio alone when they purchase them. They did it with Pixar, they did it with Marvel and I fully expect them to do it with LucasFilm, and I for one cannot wait for 2015 when Disney gives us The Avengers 2 and Star Wars 7. That will be quite the year indeed.
For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.