This press release came into my phone while I was watching Cloud Atlas today, and I immediately posted it on Twitter and then everyone else who got the press release posted it and within minutes, the whole Twitterverse was abuzz with the news. It’s pretty big. Two major entertainment companies — The Walt Disney Company and Lucasfilm Ltd. — merging into one.
By the way, that photo comes to us via Tom Kane on Facebook. Pretty creative, huh? He’s a great voice actor whose credits include Yoda in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, among others.
As if George Lucas wasn’t rich enough to begin with, as the sole owner of Lucasfilm, he’s now $4.05 billion richer, with Disney paying approximately half in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing.
Here’s the press release blurb from Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company: “Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas. 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.”
And from George Lucas: “For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. 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’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”
Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, including the Star Wars franchise and its operating businesses in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production. Disney will also acquire the substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies, including LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound.
Kathleen Kennedy, current co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become President of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise.
Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.
Let’s see… Disney has already acquired Pixar and Marvel… clearly, they’re poised to completely rule the entertainment industry. Still, it has to be a little heartwrenching for George Lucas to cede control of his franchise and pass it along to someone else. Then again, the $4 billion probably helps to ease the pain.