Disney Buys Lucasfilm, New STAR WARS Film in 2015

starwars jan 13, starwars, january 2013
(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

Disney has acquired Lucasfilm for "$4.05 billion in cash and stock," according to multiple sources including The Hollywood Reporter. Additionally, a seventh Star Wars movie has been announced for 2015.

This would place the entire Star Wars franchise under the Disney umbrella, along with other Lucasfilm properties like Indiana Jones. The two entities have worked in partnership before, including the Star Tours ride at multiple Disney theme parks.

An investor conference call was held Tuesday afternoon to discuss details of the acquisition. On the call, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced that 2015's Star Wars: Episode VII will be followed by Episodes VIII and IX, with the aim of a new Star Wars film every two to three years.

Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger, and George Lucas.

"We've got a lengthy treatment that we feel really good about," Iger said of Episodes VII-IX. "The film is in early development." The era post-Return of the Jedi has been largely covered in novels and comic books, but no indication of the story was given.

Lucasfilm's current co-chairman Kathleen Kennedy will become President of Lucasfilm, and serve as the "brand manager" for Star Wars. George Lucas will serve as creative consultant for the upcoming films, and Iger stated on the investor call that it's the franchise creator's "intention to retire." Iger said he started talking with Lucas about the possibility about a year-and-a-half ago.

"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," Lucas is quoted in Disney's press release. "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."

On the call, Iger cited Disney's acquisitions of Marvel and Pixar as a model for the Lucasfilm purchase, saying that Marvel has created "an important and lucrative platform." In 2009, Disney bought Marvel for a similar figure — approximately $4 billion.

"Pixar and Marvel both fit our criteria for strategic acquisitions and continue to create a value way in excess of their purchase price," Iger said, stating that Lucasfilm and Star Wars will do the same for the company. "We expect the Star Wars franchise to provide us a stream of revenue across all platforms for the years to come."

"Our valuation of the Lucasfilm acquisition is almost entirely driven by the Star Wars franchise," Jay Rasulo, Disney's senior executive vice president and CFO, added on the call. 

What this means, if anything, for the long-term future of Dark Horse's long-running line of Star Wars comics — since now Star Wars and Marvel are at the same company — remains to be seen, though Dark Horse president Mike Richardson provided the following comment:

"Dark Horse and LucasFilm have a strong partnership which spans over 20 years, and has produced multiple characters and story lines which are now part of the Star Wars lore. Star Wars will be with us for the near future. Obviously, this deal changes the landscape, so we'll all have to see what it means for the future."

On the video game front, a representative for LucasArts said of the current Star Wars game in development, Star Wars 1313, "For the time being all projects are business as usual. We are excited about all the possibilities that Disney brings."

Iger stated that Disney sees potential for Star Wars on television, and that the company thinks "Disney XD will be a great home for that." Whether this is related to the long in-development live-action Star Wars TV series wasn't specified. Newsarama has reached out to Lucasfilm's TV division for further comment.

The deal comes with some limitations — "encumbrances" with the first Star Wars films and Fox, and Indiana Jones and Paramount — though neither Iger or Rasulo provided further detail.

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