Disney meets Star Wars in Lucasfilm buyout

Geoff Pickle, Web EditorI can honestly say I never expected the Disney brand to be associated with Star Wars.

Yesterday, however, The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) agreed to purchase Lucasfilm Ltd., which is owned 100 percent by Lucasfilm founder and Chairman George Lucas, who created the iconic Star Wars series.

The stock and cash transaction is valued at $4.05 billion, with half of acquisition costs being paid in Disney shares – approximately 40 million of them – which were trading this morning at $48.99, compared to a 52-week range of $33.28 to $53.40.

“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger said in a news release. “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.”

 

George Lucas, right, signs over Lucasfilm, with Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger.

With the deal, Disney announced it is targeting 2015 to release “Star Wars Episode VII,” with Lucas serving as creative consultant.

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” Lucas said in the release. “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.”

Star Wars fans seem to be taking the news with mixed emotions. Some feel Disney could take the classic franchise in a more childish direction, while others feel the company could breathe life into the movie series after the release of the arguably inferior prequels.

Disney has shown its talent for creating movies that aren’t just meant for children – “Pirates of the Caribbean” comes to mind – and I will admit that “The Lion King” is among my favorite movies.

Along with other Star Wars fans, I’ll be waiting with bated breath to see what comes next.

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