The Walt Disney Company's announcement that it's buying Lucasfilm — the production company owned by producer/director George Lucas — for $4.05 billion means every last bit of the Star Wars franchise is now part of the Mickey Mouse Empire. The deal shouldn't come as a huge surprise, given the success of Star Wars-themed weekends luring amateur Jedi warriors and Darth Vaders to Disney parks.
Even though series creator Lucas says that there is such “a large group of ideas and characters and books and all kinds of things” that new Star Wars movies could be coming out for the next 100 years, fans of the franchise are a little confused that their cinnamon-roll-haired Princess Leia is now on the same squad with such gals as Pocahontas, Snow White, Ariel, and Cinderella.
Fans won’t have to wait 100 years for the next film, however. The first one under new ownership, Star Wars VII, will hit screens in 2015. Some, though, are not happy about the news.
“I’m litteraly (sic) crying about this Disney Star Wars thing guys. just… I don’t want this *Sobs*” one wrote on Tumblr, according to Foxnews.com. Another chimed in with, “No. Dear God. No. George Lucas, you are now officially the biggest sell-out in the universe.”
Disney hopes to turn such skeptics into true believers. As its press release states, "This acquisition combines two of the best family entertainment brands, and this will only better and strengthen the already long-standing relationship between the two brands which has been successfully integrated with the Star Wars content in the Disney theme parks!"
Lucas, who will serve as creative advisor on the new Star Wars films, stated,
“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.”
Lucas discussed the future of the Star Wars franchise and brand in a video with Kennedy, Steven Spielberg's former producing partner who becomes chairman of Lucasfilm as part of the Disney deal:
Another key part of the deal is the cutting-edge technology that Lucas has developed over the years:
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 current locations.
Sorry, devoted fan base, but not only are you going to have to deal with having new films, but the new deal also has “new TV shows, games and theme park attractions” as part of it, MTV reports. And now poor Lucas doesn’t have to think about Luke and Leia anymore. The word from MTV is that this “will allow him to move into more philanthropic efforts as well as work on more experimental films that don't fit into the Lucasfilm universe.” Just no remakes of THX 1138, please.
Of course, it isn’t as if Lucas hasn’t used a few Disney elements in his films to help sell a few extra toys and tickets. After all, Jar Jar Binks was supposed to help in some extra kid fans (though he became an embarrassment) and those Ewoks were made that cute for a reason. Now it's up to Disney and Kennedy to extend the Star Wars brand to a new generation, and existing fans. (Think they're up to the challenge? Post a comment below.)
Below, Disney CEO Bob Iger and George Lucas signing their landmark deal: