Disney Buys Star Wars Franchise

LOS ANGELES –  A decade since George Lucas  said “Star Wars” was finished on the big screen, a new trilogy under new  ownership is destined for theaters after The Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday  that it was buying Lucasfilm Ltd. from him for $4.05 billion.

The seventh movie, with a working title of “Episode 7,” is set for release in  2015. Episodes 8 and 9 will follow. The trilogy will continue the story of Luke  Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia beyond “Return of the Jedi,” the third  film released and the sixth in the saga. After that, Disney plans a new “Star  Wars” movie every two or three years. Lucas will serve as creative consultant in  the new movies.

“I’m doing this so that the films will have a longer life,” Lucas, the  68-year-old creator of the series and sole owner of Lucasfilm, said in an  interview posted on YouTube. “I get to be a fan now … I sort of look forward  to it. It’s a lot more fun actually, than actually having to go out into the mud  and snow.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger said Lucasfilm had already developed an extensive story  line on the next trilogy, and Episode 7 was now in early-stage development. He  said he talked with Lucas about buying the company from him a year and a half  ago, but they didn’t decide on a deal until very recently as Lucas set in motion  his retirement.

“The last `Star Wars’ movie release was 2005’s `Revenge of the Sith’ — and  we believe there’s substantial pent-up demand,” Iger said.

The blockbuster deal announced Tuesday will see Disney pay half the  acquisition price in cash and half in newly issued stock. The company expects it  to add to earnings in 2015. Along with the cash, Lucas will end up owning about  40 million Disney shares, which is about a 2.2 percent stake of the 1.83 billion  shares that will be in circulation when the transaction closes.

The deal includes Lucasfilm’s prized high-tech production companies,  Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, as well as rights to the  “Indiana Jones” franchise.

Lucas was hailed as a cinematic visionary when the original “Star Wars” came  out in 1977. But he had become an object of often-vicious ridicule by the time  he released 3-D versions of all six films in the Star Wars franchise earlier  this year.

Die-hard Star War fans had been vilifying Lucas for years, convinced that he  had become a commercial sell-out and had compounded his sins by desecrating the  heroic tale that he originally sought to tell.

They railed against him for adding grating characters such as Jar Jar Binks  in the second trilogy and attacked him for tinkering with the original trilogy,  too. Any revision in special edition or home video releases — such as making  the Ewoks blink or having a green-skinned alien named Greedo take the first shot  at Han Solo in a famous bar scene — were treated as blasphemy.

The criticism grated on Lucas, who vowed never to make another Star Wars  movie.

“Why would I make any more when everybody yells at you all the time and says  what a terrible person you are?” Lucas told The New York Times earlier this  year.

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” the fourth film in  another lucrative franchise, subjected Lucas to even more barbs when it came to  the big screen in 2008. Fans of those films were especially outraged about an  opening scene that featured Indiana Jones crawling into a lead-lined  refrigerator to survive a nuclear bomb blasting.

Lucas was fed up by the time he released “Red Tails,” a movie depicting the  valor of African-American pilots during World War II, earlier this year. He told  the Times he was ready to retire from the business of making blockbusters and  return to his roots as a student at USC’s film school, where he once made a  movie about clouds moving in a desert.

Kathleen Kennedy, the current co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become the  division’s president and report to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. She  will serve as executive producer for the new movies. Directors for the new  movies have not yet been announced.

In the YouTube video, Lucas said the decision to continue with the saga  wasn’t inconsistent with past statements.

“I always said I wasn’t going to do any more and that’s true, because I’m not  going to do any more, but that doesn’t mean I’m unwilling to turn it over to  Kathy to do more,” Lucas said.

He said he has given Kennedy his story lines and other ideas, “and I have  complete confidence that she’s going to take them and make great movies.”

Kennedy added that she and Lucas had discussed ideas with a couple of writers  about the future movies and said Lucas would continue to have a key advisory  role. “My Yoda has to be there,” she said.

The deal brings Lucasfilm under the Disney banner with other brands including  Pixar, Marvel, ESPN and ABC, all companies that Disney has acquired over the  years.

A former weatherman who rose through the ranks of ABC, Iger has orchestrated  some of the company’s biggest acquisitions, including the $7.4 billion purchase  of animated movie studio Pixar in 2006 and the $4.2 billion acquisition of comic  book giant Marvel in 2009.

Coincidentally, Lucas owned the startup that later became Pixar, before he  sold it to Apple’s Steve Jobs in 1986 for about $5 million. When Jobs sold Pixar  to Disney, he became Disney’s largest single shareholder with a 7.7 percent  stake. Those shares are now held in a trust.

Disney shares were not trading with stock markets closed due to the impact of  Superstorm Sandy in New York. They closed on Friday at $50.08.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/10/30/disney-buying-tar-wars-maker-lucasfilm-for-405b/#ixzz2Aq3MFfv5

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One thought on “Disney Buys Star Wars Franchise

  1. Pingback: Star Wars Weekends 2013 | Mouse Ear Momma

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