The Walt Disney Company has acquired Lucasfilm from its chairman, founder and sole owner, George Lucas, and set a date for the next Star Wars film.
The deal brings together two of the top licensors in the world with Disney Consumer Products ranking number No. 1 on License! Global’'s annual ranking of the Top 125 Global Licensors, and Lucasfilm at No. 15.
Disney has agreed to pay approximately $4.05 billion in a combination of stocks and cash for Lucasfilm’s Star Wars franchise as well as its operating businesses–which include live-action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects and audio post production–and cutting-edge entertainment technologies.
Kathleen Kennedy, current co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become president of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn. She will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney’s global lines of business to maximize the value of the franchise. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on the new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant.
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” says George Lucas, chief executive officer, Lucasfilm. “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 and Lucasfilm already have a long-standing relationship that has seen Star Wars content integrated into Disney theme parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Tokyo.
In addition to the news of the acquisition, Disney has also announced that Star Wars: Episode 7 will be released in 2015 with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise at later dates. Disney will also look for opportunities for the Star Wars franchise in television, consumer products, games and theme parks.
“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” says Robert A. Iger, chairman and chief executive officer, The Walt Disney Company. “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.”
The boards of directors of Disney and Lucasfilm have approved the transaction, which is subject to still subject to antitrust clearance.