Disney has purchased George Lucas' Lucasfilm LTD for $4.05 billion, the two companies announced on Tuesday. As part of the deal, Disney will make a new "Star Wars" film, the seventh in one of the most successful franchises in film history.
Disney also acquires Lucasfilm's film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects and audio post-production divisions, as well as a number of revolutionary entertainment technologies. Disney will pay half of that sum in cash and the other half in stock, based on Disney's stock price at market close Tuesday.
Lucas, the legendary creator of "Star Wars," founded Lucasfilm in 1971. The company has produced Lucas' many high-profile projects, such as "American Graffiti," the "Star Wars" franchise and the "Indiana Jones" franchise.
"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."
Lucas, co-chairman and CEO, has made clear in recent years that he plans to step aside and brought on Kathleen Kennedy, a long-time collaborator, as his successor in June.
Kennedy will serve as president of Lucasfilm, reporting directly to Disney studio chief Alan Horn. Kennedy will also executive produce the new "Star Wars" film while Lucas will serve as a creative consultant.
Disney has excelled at creating films and characters that it can turn into global brands, such as animated characters like "Finding Nemo" and the Marvel superheroes. Its theme parks and consumer products division produce substantial revenues as a result.
Lucasfilm's past films, particularly "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones," fit right into that mold. In addition to her role as president, Kennedy will serve as the brand manager for "Star Wars," helping Disney to further capitalize on a brand that has been turned into video games, toys and just about everything else.
To that end, Disney has announced that a seventh "Star Wars" film will be released in 2015, with more features in the franchise to come.
"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 a statement. "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."