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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