The Walt Disney Company is acquiring the global entertainment company founded by George Lucas and the home of the Star Wars franchise, Lucasfilm, in a $4.05 billion stock and cash deal. In addition to the movie rights, the company is acquiring all of Lucasfilm’s operating businesses – including Industrial Light and Magic and Skywalker Sound. Lucasfilm employees will remain in their current locations, at least for the immediate future, says Disney.
Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become president of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney to promote the global franchise.
George Lucas (Chairman and CEO, Lucasfilm): 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.
Disney says it plans to release a new Star Wars feature film every two or three years for the foreseeable future. A new feature film, Star Wars Episode 7, will open in theaters worldwide in 2015. George Lucas will serve as creative consultant on the film and Kathleen Kennedy will be the executive producer (she’s also joining Disney as president of Lucasfilm). The Star Wars universe currently has more than 17,000 characters inhabiting several thousand planets spanning 20,000 years.
The boards of both Disney and Lucasfilm have approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions.
Lucasfilm, founded in 1971, and headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm, LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound. The company is owned by Lucasfilm chairman and Founder, George Lucas. In addition to its motion-picture and television production operations, the company’s activities include Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound (visual-effects and audio post-production), LucasArts (interactive entertainment software), Lucas Licensing (which manages the global merchandising activities for Lucasfilm’s entertainment properties), Lucasfilm Animation, and Lucas Online (Internet-based content for Lucasfilm’s entertainment properties and businesses). Lucasfilm Singapore produces digital animated content for film and television, as well as visual effects for feature films and multi-platform games. Lucasfilm is headquartered in San Francisco, California.
Disney has strong ties with Lucasfilm, its parks feature Star Wars and Indiana Jones themed attractions in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Tokyo. Still, for a lot of fans, it may seem like a nostalgic end of an era. And the beginning of a new one.