Disney Acquires Lucasfilm for $4 Billion

I thought long and hard about how to write this story without letting my Star Wars geek bias show through and ultimately decided that would be dishonest of me. Here it goes: hooray! Disney is buying Lucasfilm for $4 billion in cash and stocks and is planning to release Star Wars Episode 7 in 2015. That means that George Lucas, the man who created Star Wars and subsequently ruined Star Wars, will no longer be in charge of the franchise.

While Episode 7 got a tentative release window, Disney expressed plans for three more films in the franchise, and I highly doubt Disney will stop there. There have been numerous complaints about the further milking of the franchise, but I remain optimistic. For most Star Wars fans, the series has nowhere to go but up, and the recent Avengers film is proof that Disney can do right with its acquired properties.

Some details came through in the ensuing conference call. Someone asked if there was a similar deal in place that Disney has with Marvel in regards to exploiting their characters. There is such a deal, but less restrictions than they have with Marvel. There are some restrictions on what they can do with Indiana Jones and the Star Wars films made with Fox. They also mentioned a focus on 3D, interest in television, and a willingness to license the property out for video games.

Time will tell what comes of this development.

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BURBANK, Calif. & SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The WaltDisneyCompany (NYSE:DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, GeorgeLucas.

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 sheetadjustments.

Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas, saidRobert A. Iger, Chairman andChief Executive Officerof TheWalt DisneyCompany. This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content includingStar Wars,one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disneys unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-termvalue.

For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to seeStar Warspassed from one generation to the next, said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. Its now time for me to passStar Warson to a new generation of filmmakers. Ive always believed thatStar Warscould live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. Im confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership ofKathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within theDisney organization,Star Warswill certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disneys reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumerproducts.

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, a leader in entertainment,innovationand technology, including its massively popular and evergreenStar Warsfranchise 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 currentlocations.

Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm, will become President of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios ChairmanAlan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager forStar Wars, working directly with Disneys global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise. Ms. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on newStar Warsfeature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant.Star WarsEpisode 7is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue theStar Warssaga and grow the franchise well into thefuture.

The acquisition combines two highly compatible family entertainment brands, and strengthens the long-standing beneficial relationship between them that already includes successful integration ofStar Warscontent into Disney theme parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris andTokyo.

Driven by a tremendously talented creative team, Lucasfilms legendaryStar Warsfranchise 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 Warsresonates 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 Warsfeature films have earned a total of $4.4 billion in global box to date, and continued global demand has madeStar Warsone of the worlds 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 Disneys strategic priorities for continued long-termgrowth.

The Lucasfilm acquisition follows Disneys very successful acquisitions ofPixarand Marvel, which demonstrated the companys unique ability to fully develop and expand the financial potential of high quality creative content with compelling characters and storytelling through the application ofinnovative technologyDisney Acquires Lucasfilm for $4 Billion  and multiplatform distribution on a truly global basis to create maximum value. Adding Lucasfilm to Disneys portfolio of world class brands significantly enhances the companys ability to serve consumers with a broad variety of the worlds highest-quality content and to create additional long-term value for ourshareholders.

TheBoards of Directors of Disneyand 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 ofLucasfilm.

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via SF Gate

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