The Walt Disney Company has announced plans to purchase Lucasfilm Ltd and the Star Wars franchise from Academy Award-winning director George Lucas. A new Star Wars movie will be released in 2015.
In a press release issued by at 4:30 ET on Tuesday, Disney stated:
"Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas."
Lucas agreed to the $4.05 billion deal, saying:
"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."
The $4.05 billion will be paid to Lucas in two ways. Approximately half of the payment will be in cash and the remainder of the payment will be made in the form of an estimated 40 million shares of Disney stock.
The purchase of Lucasfilm was based almost entirely by the potential Disney sees in the “Star Wars” series, according to Rasulo. Much of the licensing revenue for Star Wars toys is primarily generated in North America. Disney's ability to extend licensing around the world should enable the Star Wars franchise to grow well beyond its current value.
Current Lucasfilm co-chair, Kathleen Kennedy, will assume the role of president of Lucasfilm and will report to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Kennedy will also be the executive producer on all of the new Star Wars films.
Lucasfilm is also responsible for the award winning Indiana Jones franchise, as well as the fantasy films Willow and Labyrinth.
According to Reuters, this is the third multi-billion dollar purchase made by Disney in the past 6 years. Disney also purchased Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for $4 billion, and in 2006, they purchased Pixar Animation Studios for $7.4 billion.
According to a New York Times report, Robert A. Iger, Disney's Chief Executive, said the seventh “Star Wars” feature film will be released in 2015. A new Stars Wars film will follow every two to three years. Lucas will be a consultant for each of the the film projects.