Disney Buying LucasFilm For $4.05 Billion

The Walt Disney Company announced today that it is acquiring Lucasfilm, George Lucas’ company responsible for the Star Wars franchise, Indiana Jones, and numerous other properties, for $4.05 billion. As part of the deal, Disney also acquires all of Lucasfilm’s subsidiaries and businesses, including Industrial Light and Magic and Skywalker Sound, which are widely used in the film industry. Disney’s board of directors as well as LucasFilm’s have approved of the transaction, which is now subject to antitrust scrutiny before being finalized.

Regarding the acquisition, Disney’s official corporate blog states, “Fans can expect a new feature film, Star Wars Episode 7, in theaters worldwide in 2015. George Lucas will serve as creative consultant on the film and Kathleen Kennedy, the filmmaker George handpicked to lead Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the rest of Lucasfilm into the future will be the executive producer (she’s also joining Disney as president of Lucasfilm)…Disney plans to release a new Star Wars feature film every two or three years for the foreseeable future.”

Here’s a video Disney released regarding the acquisition:

Our Reaction

Wow. Did anyone see this coming? Obviously this has sweeping implications for the film side of Disney’s business, but those are better left to be discussed by experts in that area. Instead, let’s consider the theme park implications, of which there are also many.

Disney theme park insiders have said for years that Disney has wanted to do more with the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises in the parks, but has had a difficult time due to collaborative difficulties in working with George Lucas. This transaction obviously eliminates any such obstacles, and without contracts with competing theme parks (as was the case with Marvel and Universal Orlando), there is nothing stopping Disney from aggressively utilizing the Star Wars and Indiana Jones properties in its parks.

And Disney should do exactly that. Unlike other properties that Disney could license or has licensed, Star Wars will not wane in popularity anytime soon, and it is already present to varying degrees in Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. A dedicated LucasFilm Land, as we suggested months ago in our article concerning expansion at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. An aggressive expansion of the area surrounding Star Tours would potentially negate the need to add Cars Land to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, thus allowing Disney California Adventure to retain its unique draw. It might also supplement a Cars Land addition as part of a wholesale makeover of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Star Wars would certainly prove a worthy rival to the similarly timeless Wizarding World of Harry Potter, if Disney chooses to utilize Star Warsit in a similar fashion. Star Wars is likely the only property that has fans more devoted than Harry Potter fans.

The purchase of LucasFilm also allows Disneyland to rethink its strongly-rumored overhaul of Tomorrowland with properties from the Star Wars universe rather than from the Marvel universe. I know I’d much rather see something based upon Star Wars characters than Stark Expo in the Innoventions building.

As for other implications, I can see this having a sweeping impact on other plans that have been gaining momentum for Disney. Last week AVATAR Land plans leaked, but you have to wonder if Disney might shelve the AVATAR idea if it has the ultimate juggernaut with Star Wars. Although it’s unlikely that Star Wars will resolve any problems with Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it seems possible that Disney will want to allocate its theme park resources towards Star Wars, a property that it now owns, rather than a licensed property. Unless Disney massively expands its capital expenditures, it seems like an either or proposition–at least until more money is freed up when AVATAR Land and other projects conclude in 2015 or 2016. Of course, with as slow as Disney often moves in theme park development, it may take that long before Disney is ready to go with plans for more Star Wars content in the parks.

It may take a little while, but I can’t see Disney wanting to wait that long to aggressively expand the presence of Star Wars in the parks. Bob Iger’s tenure as CEO already has an expiration date on it, and I think he wants to establish his legacy as the man who brought Pixar, Marvel, and LucasFilm into the fold, and oversaw massive expansion that involved these properties. This is great for Disney theme park fans, and we all should be excited to see what’s to come! (In celebration of the acquisition, might I suggest dressing up your Facebook page with a Disney/Star Wars Facebook Cover?)

Universal might have started the theme park wars in Orlando, but I think Disney’s actions in the last several weeks have made things really, really interesting. It’s a good time to be a fan of either resort!

What do you think of Disney’s purchase of LucasFilm? How would you like to see Star Wars and Indiana Jones’ presence expanded in the parks (or wouldn’t you)? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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12 Responses to “Disney Buying LucasFilm For $4.05 Billion”

  1. Adam Burton says:

    I think this is very exciting. I just hope that the Disney “Universe” always remains front and center. Stars Wars etc is great fun, but a supporting player in the parks (in my opinion)> Mickey and family always need to be center stage.
    RE Avatar -I really hope they shelve this idea…I think the movie is already tired – and doesnt belong in the Disney “World”.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Not only the Disney universe, but also the original concept “universe.” Some of the greatest attractions in the parks are original concepts, and it would be a shame to see those disappear because Disney owns so much (and so varied) intellectual property that it never wants to develop an attraction that can’t serve as cross-promotion to some of its other media (movies, TV, games, etc.).

      I was originally indifferent/optimistic towards the AVATAR Land idea, but realizing that budgets are finite, I’d much rather Disney now focus on Star Wars and whatever else is coming to DHS. Unless Disney wants to do it all. I wouldn’t mind that!

  2. Katie says:

    I was shocked by this news–I never thought George Lucas was going to give up so much control over Star Wars. I’m intrigued by the possibilities. It sounded to me like Iger promised theme park development in the video (though he didn’t say where or when). I think we’ll know more with the December 7 announcement (and a lot more after D23 next year)–but if I had to put money on something, I might guess concurrent Star Wars + Avatar development (perhaps why they supposedly cut Avatar from 3 attractions to 2). I am not opposed to the idea of an East Coast Cars Land (just because it’s so much cheaper and easier for us to get south to Florida rather than west to California)–especially if it is Cars Land/Pixar Place (i.e. Monsters Inc. dark coaster), but expanding the Star Wars offerings would be amazing. They did a brilliant job with Star Tours 2.0–now that I think about it, I wonder if that was part of what convinced Lucas to go to Disney…. However things work out, it seems like exciting developments are coming down the line!

    PS Couldn’t comment without saying something about Star Wars: Episode VII (coming to a galaxy near you in 2015)–I’m excited about this possibility as well. From videos posted on the Official Star Wars blog, it sounds like Lucas and Kennedy have been working on this movie for a few months already (maybe at the point of bringing in a scriptwriter?) and that Kennedy will be the executive producer with Lucas’s advice. I think Lucas has always produced the best product when he wasn’t able to get his way about everything, so I have high hopes for the quality of storytelling in this movie. (Of course, I also think you could probably fix the prequels by a little bit of selective editing and re-writing the dialogue, so maybe I’m a little blue-sky about the potential here).

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’d be shocked if anything is said about this on December 7th. Those presentations, historically, have been bland infomercials that give uninformed media an idea of what fans have known for quite a while. Now, with more and more fan-based media and people attending these presentations who already know all about Disney, maybe that will change, but I wouldn’t count on it. Even if something Star Wars is going to be built, that would be awfully fast turn-around time to get art from WDI, unless they dust off one of the concepts they’ve had lying around for years. I think hearing something by next D23 is far more likely.

      I’d love to be wrong on this, and I’d love to see Burbank really make it clear that this needs to be fast-tracked. Disney has moved at a snail’s pace with its Orlando projects recently, and it’ll be really disappointing if the first new (real) Star Wars attraction doesn’t open until 2016 or 2017.

  3. mitch says:

    There are two things I have loved ever since I was a kid. Star Wars and Disney. I also love superheroes but I’m much more into DC than marvel. As exciting as it was when the prequels were announced- what I’ve always been more interested in and always wanted was to see an episode 7,8, and 9. This solidifies my love for all things Disney and I hope they start pumping out new attractions and merchandise ASAP.

    P.S- This news made my day after dealing with the aftermath of hurricane sandy out here on long island!!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I wonder how other Star Wars fans feel about the prospect of more films. I know I always want to see the things I enjoy have newness to them, but at the same time, I often feel that sequels shouldn’t be made unless there’s a compelling reason to do so.

      But then again, I guess that ship has sailed for Star Wars and its 5 additional installments! :)

  4. Pamela says:

    When I read your Avatar post, my husband and I agreed that Avatar had no chance at competing with Harry Potter and the only thing that could was Star Wars. I really hope they forget Avatar and focus on Star Wars. (I have seen the movie and barely remember it, it had no impact) We’re excited to see the impacts!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Maybe Cameron intentionally made Avatar forgettable so that people would have more reason to watch it again and again to remember it. What a genius!!! ;)

  5. Tyler says:

    To echo your comments: if there is a brand to rival the success/fan base of the Potter Universe, it’s Star Wars. Well played Disney. Checkmate.

  6. aRJedi says:

    They could just turn Tomorrowland into Star Wars land and instead of Avatar Land(which I would still be a big fan of) they can make a part of Animal Kingdom it into Yavin, where the final battle of Jedi was fought. Put all the Ewoks in there with Speeder Bike rides and put all the “space” stuff in star Wars land.

    • backinoz says:

      I was thinking something vey similar – I thought AK would be a perfect fit for where they could build Tatooine – eat and drink in the Mos Eisley Cantina (waaaaay cool if they added ‘steetmosphere’ actors as some of the characters – hands off Hans Solo ladies), and a POD-racer ride (think RSR-type ending) where the ride through or que area could be Jaba’s palace. Oh and don’t forget the littlies – anyone want to ride a bantha or an Eopie (their flatulance problem would appeal to all those ‘anti-princesses’ out there) – the whole land even fits with AK’s current status as the ‘hot’ park.

      If you wanted to go something a little less hot and lush with vegetation, then I s’pose Naboo would do – but personally I’d much rather see all the baddies hangin out at the Mos Eisley Cantina, than a heap of Gungan’s roaming around ;-) I guess that would open up the opportunity to buy the rights to Psy’s “Gangnam Style” song and tweak the lyrics a bit – imagine a flash mob of Gungans doing a “Gungan Style” dance??

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