Disney Ramps Up 'Star Wars' After Lucasfilm Buy
By Robert Marich
Nov 23, 2012—Job one at Walt Disney Co. with the acquisition of Lucasfilm is making new Star Wars movies, which company founder George Lucas was reluctant to fund. Three weeks ago, Disney bought Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion from George Lucas, as the 68-year-old Lucas found a home for his diversified media company where its Star Wars characters can live on forever. They’ll be under the same roof as Mickey Mouse, the Marvel comic book characters, Winnie the Pooh and others.
There have been six Star Wars films since 1977 and Michael Arndt, who wrote Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3, is creating the screenplay for seventh. Revving up Star Wars fits into Disney’s movie strategy that, while conservative, calls for going all-out for family franchises that the company controls that can spin off books, theme park rides and other transmedia incarnations.
The existing six Star Wars film have raked in $4.5 billion in box office, with the most recent in 2005, according to Boxofficemojo.com. Disney chairman Bob Iger said that earlier acquisitions such as Pixar worked well because Disney let them operate without demands for synergy and he expects the same hands-off for Lucasfilm (interestingly, Lucasfilm owned Pixar and sold it to the late Apple boss Steve Jobs, who eventually sold to Disney). “And if Disney can do with Star Wars what it did with Pirates of the Caribbean, the company has a shot at owning the most important new feature franchise maybe ever,” notes an article by Marc Bodnick on Forbes.com. Bodnick thinks that Disney will enjoy a quick return on its investment.
In the buy, Lucas gets half the $4.05 billion in cash and the other half in Disney stock, so he will be a presence as a consultant going forward.
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