Star Wars, now (TM) the House of Mouse. Yes, George Lucas has been making noises for a while now about how he won’t be producing films forever and how he wanted to secure his legacy for Star Wars. And the way he’s doing it? By selling Lucasfilm to Disney for £2.5 billion (that’s $4.05 billion if you’re based in the colonies), with Disney planning to produce a new Star Wars film every couple of years – the first to hit the screen in 2015. Sources have also told us that they will be going ahead with a live action TV series shortly after.
Disney is to purchase outright ownership of Lucasfilm, including the Star Wars franchise as well as Lucasfilm’s other interests in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post-production. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, will – we are told – continue to trade under their old operating names of Lucasfilm, LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, with current Lucasfilm employees remaining in their present offices. Many of them will, of course, be worried now about the dreaded ‘S’ work… synergies… corporate speak for layoffs. Most of these should happen in the non-creative areas such as marketing, back office and head office, given the stated rationale of the deal. It’s not known if Uncle George slipped any riders into the sell-out to protect employees in the near future (more word on this if we hear any leaks from our sources at the firm).
One source told us this deal has been on the cards for a while, and Disney are also planning a “very major” as yet un-announced expansion of Star Wars areas at the Disney theme parks
Kathleen Kennedy is being promoted to president of Lucasfilm, reporting to Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Kennedy will act as ‘brand manager’ to help preserve the Star Wars legacy within Disney. Star Wars Episode 7 – the very name fills us with dread – is now hard-slated for release in 2015. George is helping out as creative consultant for at least the first of the new movies, too.
George told SFcrowsnest, “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.”
Disney’s CEO Robert A. Iger added, “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.”
First Pixar, then Marvel, now Lucasfilm? The House of Mouse is becoming a monster of Godzilla proportions, gobbling all before it. Of course, with the internet and digitisation of content – some of it illegally downloaded – the film industry is rapidly feeling the same squeeze that murdered the legacy music business, shuttered newspapers around the globe and is now forcing mergers between the likes of Penguin and Random House as they crumble before the ebook tide. It’s time to bulk up, MegaContentCorp! Just don’t frack Star Wars too badly after you’re finished merging, or you’ll have the massed ranks of fandom to answer to.