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Well this is just amazing. Two of my favorite franchises have become one big happy family. Disney announced today on an investor call that they will be acquiring Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4.05 billion total in stock and cash. With this acquisition, Disney will now own Star Wars, Indiana Jones, LucasArts, as well as Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound. They will be releasing Star Wars VII in 2015, with VIII and IX following every other year.
This is a tremendous purchase for Disney and is probably one of their best acquisitions since Pixar and Marvel. For those that don't know, Disney already is tightly coupled with LucasArts as they have Star Tours and the Indiana Jones Stunt Show in Disney's Hollywood Studios (and Star Tours in other Disney Parks), as well as holding yearly events such as Stars Wars Weekends on select weekends starting typically in mid-May. I had the pleasure of going to Star Wars Weekends this year and I can't wait to see what Disney does to further the Star Wars brand. Read on for the press release and further analysis of this deal.
The question that comes to mind when I think about this is "what is going to happen to the proposed Avatarland at Disney's Animal Kingdom ?" Isn't Star Wars a direct competitor to the Avatar brand in the end? I know they are both different themes but they are ultimately science-fiction movies in the end and to me, to buy Star Wars and then bring Avatar into the parks seems a little backwards. I know Avatar's theme (environmental safety) fits better in Animal Kingdom but it does make me wonder if Disney should take a step back and reconsider this decision after this purchase. Not sure what they could do that is Star Wars themed instead but there are plenty of worlds to choose from... EndorLand anyone? AlderaanLand might be a bad choice... [/geek reference].
I do know that this will probably mean a larger "LucasLand" presence in Hollywood Studios just as the Pixar acquisition will become a larger Pixar Place in Hollywood Studios. I can see Disney taking Sounds Dangerous (which is already finally closed) and using that area for more Star Wars related attractions. I could also see them taking the Backlot Express restaurant out and replacing it with a Mos Eisley cantina themed restaurant (go ahead Disney, I'll let you use this idea). The sky is the limit and I'm excited to see where Disney takes this award winning franchise in the future. They better keep Star Wars: Clone Wars on TV that's all I can say...
Also, a question on my mind... does this make Princess Leia a Disney princess now? :) hah
If you are interested in reading the official press release, read on below or click this link .
Official Press Release
Burbank, CA and San Francisco, CA, October 30, 2012 – Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.
Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.
"Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas," said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. "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."
"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. "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, a leader in entertainment, innovation and technology, including its massively popular and "evergreen" 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 that have kept audiences enthralled for many years. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, and the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations.
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. Ms. 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.
The acquisition combines two highly compatible family entertainment brands, and strengthens the long-standing beneficial relationship between them that already includes successful integration of Star Wars content into Disney theme parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Tokyo.
Driven by a tremendously talented creative team, Lucasfilm's legendary Star Wars franchise has flourished for more than 35 years, and offers a virtually limitless universe of characters and stories to drive continued feature film releases and franchise growth over the long term. Star Wars resonates with consumers around the world and creates extensive opportunities for Disney to deliver the content across its diverse portfolio of businesses including movies, television, consumer products, games and theme parks. Star Wars feature films have earned a total of $4.4 billion in global box to date, and continued global demand has made Star Wars one of the world's top product brands, and Lucasfilm a leading product licensor in the United States in 2011. The franchise provides a sustainable source of high quality, branded content with global appeal and is well suited for new business models including digital platforms, putting the acquisition in strong alignment with Disney's strategic priorities for continued long-term growth.
The Lucasfilm acquisition follows Disney's very successful acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel, which demonstrated the company's unique ability to fully develop and expand the financial potential of high quality creative content with compelling characters and storytelling through the application of innovative technology and multiplatform distribution on a truly global basis to create maximum value. Adding Lucasfilm to Disney's portfolio of world class brands significantly enhances the company's ability to serve consumers with a broad variety of the world's highest-quality content and to create additional long-term value for our shareholders.
The Boards of Directors of Disney and Lucasfilm have approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions. The agreement has been approved by the sole shareholder of Lucasfilm.