The Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the world. In addition to the actual Disney animation, film, and merchandising enterprise, it includes the national ABC Network, the ESPN sports network, critically-acclaimed animation studio Pixar, and Marvel Comics. Add one more famous name to that empire: Lucasfilm Ltd., the creative house that built Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
Disney announced today that they would be purchasing Lucasfilm Ltd.--which was 100% owned by founder George Lucas--in a $4.05 billion dollar deal, with about half paid in cash and the other half-plus in about 40 million shares of stock. Robert Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, had this to say about the acquisition:
"Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas. 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."
Slightly-crazy Star Wars creator George Lucas (and Chairman and CEO of Lucasfilm Ltd.) also commented on this changing of the guard:
"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."
Some of you might be worried. I'm not. Y'know why?
This is a Marvel movie from before the Disney acquisition. It was crap (and it pains me to say it, 'cause I'm a huge Daredevil fanboy). Most of them were.
This is a Marvel movie from after the Disney acquisition. It was actually pretty damn good.
I only bring this up because Disney revealed that Star Wars: Episode VII is slated for a 2015 release alongside the sequel to superhero hit The Avengers. I'm a little concerned about this, but as long as George Lucas doesn't have complete creative control, we should be fine. No details have yet been revealed about Star Wars: Episode VII except its release window, but it's pretty safe to say that we won't be getting a film version of Extended Universe novel The Courtship of Princess Leia, which is honestly too bad.
What do you think? Lucasfilm's properties are some of the most important pop-culture icons of our time--do you think Disney will treat them right?