As I sit in a candlelit apartment in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, little did I know that news from across the country would blow me away.
Disney has announced it has made it’s biggest aquisition since Marvel. It has gobbled up Lucasfilm.
The entertainment juggernaut scooped up George Lucas’ little independent production company for a sizable $4.05 billion. Here’s part of the statement from Robert A. Iger, chairman and CEO:
The Walt Disney Company has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm and its world class portfolio of creative content – including the legendary Star Wars franchise – along with all of its operating businesses, including Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound.
George Lucas is a visionary, an innovator and an epic storyteller – and he’s built a company at the intersection of entertainment and technology to bring some of the world’s most unforgettable characters and stories to screens across the galaxy. He’s entertained, inspired, and defined filmmaking for almost four decades and we’re incredibly honored that he has entrusted the future of that legacy to Disney.
For his part, Lucas said this about the deal:
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.
With this rather sizable announcement came the additional tidbit that a new Star Wars film would be released in 2015.
“In 2015, we’re planning to release Star Wars Episode 7 – the first feature film under the ‘Disney-Lucasfilm’ brand,” Iger said. “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.”
The Disney CEO went on to note that Lucas will not vanish from the franchise he gave birth to, despite selling it away.
“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,” he said.
Along with Star Wars, Disney now controls Indiana Jones. However, they made no mention of any plans regarding that franchise. This will probably come soon, which I’m going to guess will include an animated series. Either that or they’ll do another feature which will spin off with Mutt or something. I’d like to think they won’t try and do something really dumb, like reboot it.
While part of me was shocked by this development, I can’t say I was too shocked. Just look at what Disney has done in the last few years.
They scooped up the Muppets several years ago, and in a similar fashion to what they seem anxious to do with Star Wars, they produced a new feature film. They recently grabbed Marvel and its staple of properties. They also grabbed Pixar.
Disney has in recent years made it their practice to nab respectable companies with established franchises and marketable products (while in the meantime obsessively developing their own, from Pirates of the Caribbean and the Lone Ranger). It’s not a bad business practice. However, it does make me a little concerned to see so many franchises being absorbed by one company.
Lucas has also seemed to make it clear that he’s looking to move on to another phase of his life. He “retired” earlier this year and handed control of Lucasfilm to Kennedy. He also said that, while he loved Star Wars, he felt it derailed his real goals of making small, avant garde films.
I’m guessing that he’ll go the way of his buddy, Francis Ford Coppola, who has spent the last few years directing small, self-produced little movies. Not too many people ever see them, they don’t ignite the box office, but he seems happy making them. Lucas will no doubt do the same.
At the same time, I have to wonder, what will a post-Lucas Star Wars be like? Is this a good thing? Part of me feels like the franchise is filled with new potential which could actually be quite exciting.