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Darth Mickey: Disney to buy Lucasfilm

Filmmaker George Lucas addresses the Investment Company Institute's annual general membership meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel May 11, 2012 in Washington, D.C. Disney announced a plan today to buy Lucas' production company Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion.

The Walt Disney Co. announced that it is purchasing the famed Lucasfilm studios, founded by filmmaker George Lucas, in a $4.05 billion deal.

On a conference call to discuss the deal, Disney executives highlighted the profitability of the "Star Wars" movies and said Jedi fans should expect a new "Star Wars" film in 2015 and more in coming years. In addition, it's likely these films will be in 3-D.

On the call, Jay Rasulo, Disney's senior executive vice president, said the purchase was "almost entirely driven by the 'Star Wars' franchise." In the deal, Disney also purchases the rights to the "Indiana Jones" franchise as well as Lucasfilm's production arm, consumer products, animation, visual effects and audio post-production divisions.

"Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas," Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of Disney, said in a statement. "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."

Sharon Waxman, CEO and editor-in-chief of the entertainment business blog, The Wrap says "that's a really big purchase."

She says this is part of a larger strategy at Disney to purchase big, already established brands, similar to an earlier purchase of Marvel, and look for new ways to monetize them.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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How smart it is for Mr. Lucas to sell his creation now. After 36 years, "Star Wars" and related merchandise have slowly been declining in interest the last couple of years. I myself think you can only buy so many different versions of the films -VHS, DVD, Blue-Ray, etc and see them in syndication infinitely before yawning. I was thinking about this recently and told my 12-year-old nephew that "...for, me, at 35 years of age...I'm kind of tired and bored of it." Disney will expose the whole franchise to death. I mean c'mon. A new Star Wars movie in the theatre every two years??? You can only have so many films and shows before the stories become overly repetitive. Think James Bond movies here. Yes, they can be fun but the storylines end up following templates and become predictable. Same thing goes for Star Trek and all the spin-offs. Take the money and run George!!!

There is no need for any more BAD movies. But the story lines are no where near "wrung out." As long as Disney can find a director who remembers how to cast and direct live human beings as well as make great special effects, there are plenty of films left to me made.

I thought I was going to have a wreck! The image of "Chewbacca breaking out in song" made my day!

I haven't gotten around to seeing Ep. 6 yet. (Or #3, or whichever the most recent is.)
A Disney trilogy *could* be a good thing. (Han fired first.)

20th Century Fox took a risk with a young newbie to make a "big budget" sci-fi movie in 1977. STAR WARS was a refreshing new genre for us teenagers at the time. I don't think Disney, the Monster that it is, can recreate the fantasy of Sci-Fi. I see Disney as exec's creating a 'cookie cutter' format of movies. Taking away the independent creativity of movie Directors and Producers. (Remember Lucas left the Director's guild because of his new ideas). I watch with apprehension and cynicism on how Disney will change the Franchise

The problem with the last 3 (or 4) Starwars Films was not that they were sequels. The problem was that they were kind of lame. Granted, the first two films were hard acts to follow. And, beginning with the Ewoks, Lucus seemed more concerned about merchandising tie-ins for kids than about his orginal, if aging, fans. (Of course, George was risking his own money, after all.) Perhaps Disney can please both camps? Help up O' Bee Micky, you're our only hope!

Do we want Episode 7? Of course, but we also want 8 and 9!

Hey, Kai,

I am definitely not in your camp when it comes to the impending Disney production of Episode VII.

When I was in elementary school, and this would have been right around the time Return of the Jedi was first released, a friend told me that 'Jedi' was actually number six (making "Star Wars" four of course - a fact which had escaped me until that conversation), and that George Lucas had originally written Star Wars as a nine-part series and the first three would be filmed next, and then the last three after that. Despite being a big fan of the original three movies, over the years, even up to now, I never bothered to investigate or confirm whether what he said was true. But his words have always been in the back of my mind and there has been a tiny flame of hope patiently and steadily burning deep in the recesses of my being. The first I've heard of this news was on your show today, and based on what Disney has done on the big screen in recent years, I am very, very excited. Maybe if Episodes VII, VIII, and IX are good, we can get them to remake I, II, and III...

Note to Matt: It looks like you were right, bud.

-Robert Elliott
Fort Collins, CO

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