Disney’s recent purchase of Lucasfilm for the hefty sum of $4 billion marks another sizeable ripple in the entertainment giant’s pool of characters. The move, although shocking in terms of timing, isn’t a surprising one. Just three yeas ago, Disney bought Marvel for a similar figure, spearheading CEO Bob Iger’s strategy of investing in bluechip properties that will pay dividends for years to come.
Why this makes sense
Lucasfilm founder, George Lucas, is something of an enigma in Hollywood. He’s stayed tucked away in Northern California’s Marin County, choosing when to work on his next project, if at all. Who can blame him? When he hit one out of the park with Star Wars he was set; he protected himself from ever having to roll up his sleeves and get involved in the gritty politics around town. That’s where Disney steps in.
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said Lucas, in a statement. By selling to Disney, he puts his legacy in proven, established hands that have done a tremendous job with Pixar and Marvel by largely not altering the creative process.
“It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.”
Where it goes from here
Said Disney CEO Robert Iger: “This is one of the great entertainment properties of all time, one of the best branded and one of the most valuable, and it’s just fantastic for us to have the opportunity to both buy it, run it and grow it.”
The immediate effect of the deal is that current Star Wars based programming will now shift from Cartoon Network to Disney XD, with hopes of expanding that line.
The long term effect is what has everyone excited, or in some cases, terrified: more Star Wars films.
The 68-year-old Lucas has agreed to stay on as a consultant for the future. Episode VII just entered pre production, with screenwriter Michael Arndt tied to the project (famous for Little Miss Sunshine) and it hass already been revealed we can expect Episodes VIII and IX shortly thereafter. Iger also adds, “our long term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years.”
Beyond Star Wars
This move is a great win for Disney. Forget about the gobbles of money they’re slated to earn after they churn out each new flick. Look at the long term benefits: park expansion. With the long rumored Marvel based theme park addition to Disneyland/Disneyworld, there’s nothing stopping Disney from doing the same with Star Wars. Imagine being able to walk around the Death Star, freeze on Hoth, or climb through the Ewok Village, that may soon become a reality?
Here’s what nobody seems to be talking about though: Lucasfilm isn’t just Star wars. This is kind of like first-grade shapes where you’re mind blown to learn a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle isn’t a square. Disney doesn’t just get the rights to Star Wars, they get the entire Lucasfilm catalog which includes: Indiana Jones, The Land Before Time, Willow, American Graffiti, Labyrinth and more.
Now, especially in regards to Indiana Jones, Disney has been mum on their plans, which is understandable. Paramount actually owns the distribution rights to the franchise, however, that deal will eventually expire, and it isn’t out of the realm of possibility Disney could just buy the rights.
Still, I think we could see Disney take a crack at rejuvenating or expanding on some of the lesser known titles and I for one would be a huge fan of a sequel to the cult-classic, Willow.
Little bit of housekeeping
Keep an eye out for what Disney decides to do with the smaller Lucas companies: Skywalker Sound (post production), Lucas Arts (video games), Industrial Light and Magic (special effects) and a few others. While Disney has said it currently has no plans to move these offices down to Burbank, I’d say it’s a safe bet the move happens eventually down the line.
Ultimately, as the parchment of this deal continues to unfurl, I think we’ll soon find we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the magnitude this acquisition not only means for Disney, but for everyone else in Hollywood.
Follow as more info develops or contact Anthony Felix at firstname.lastname@example.org