The Walt Disney Company announced that it has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm from founder and chairman George Lucas in a cash and stock transaction valued at $4.05 billion. Disney will pay Lucas approximately half in cash and issue approximately 40 million shares.
In addition to Lucas’s venerable postproduction and visual effects facilities, including Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound, Lucasfilm Animation and LucasArts, under the deal, Disney will acquire the rights to the Indiana Jones and Star Wars franchises.
“We’re already moving forward with plans to continue the epic Star Wars saga,” said Robert Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company. “The last Star Wars movie release was 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, and we believe there’s substantial pent up demand. In 2015, we’re planning to release Star Wars Episode 7 – the first feature film under the ‘Disney-Lucasfilm’ brand. That will be followed by Episodes 8 and 9. Our long-term plan is to release a new Star Wars feature film every two to three years.”
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said Lucas. “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.”
“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said Iger. “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.”
Kathleen Kennedy, current co-chairwoman 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 business units to maximize the value of the franchise. Kennedy will also serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with Lucas serving as a creative consultant.
To date, Star Wars feature films have earned a total of $4.4 billion in global box office sales, and continued global demand has made Star Wars one of the world’s top product brands. In fact, Jay Rasulo, senior executive vice president and CFO, The Walt Disney Company, explained that “Our Lucasfilm valuation is almost entirely driven by the Star Wars franchise, so any success from other franchises would provide upside to our base case.”