BURBANK (CBSLA.com) — The Walt Disney Company has agreed to buy Lucasfilm Ltd., which includes the Star Wars franchise, for $4.05 billion in cash and stock from George Lucas, it was announced Tuesday.
The deal includes a tentative 2015 release date of Stars Wars Episode 7, along with the possibility of growing the franchise with more feature films.
“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, said in a statement.
Current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, will become President and report to Walt Disney Chairman Alan Horn.
“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,” Iger said.
The company said Kennedy will serve as the brand manager for Stars Wars, as well as the executive producer on the upcoming film.
“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,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm, George Lucas said. “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 will be serving as creative consultant on Stars Wars Episode 7, Disney said.
The Star Wars movies have earned a total of $4.4 billion worldwide.
Matt Krantz, markets reporter for USA Today told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that Disney is going all-out, and this deal is the latest and largest example.
“It actually is its fourth-largest acquisition ever, and that’s saying a lot for this company, which bought Pixar in 2006 for over $7 billion and Marvel in 2009 for almost $4 billion,” said Krantz.