In a move that caught Hollywood slightly off guard, Disney has announced that it is buying LucasFilm for $4.05 billion in stock and cash, and that they are developing a seventh Star Wars movie for release in 2015. George Lucas will not direct as he is pretty much retiring (although will serve as a creative consultant), although it is not known yet who will take over at the helm.
Disney chairman Robert G. Iger commented, “Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas. 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.”
So yep, that means that not only are they looking at this in terms of making new movies, but also how they can expand the merchandising and the saga’s role at the company’s theme park. However it’s Star Wars’ future in film that most people care about. George Lucas has often said that he originally intended for there to be nine films, and as part of the deal, Disney gets his treatments for Episodes 7, 8, and 9. The first movie should come in 2015, with plans for a new films every 2-3 years after that. With Disney wanting to mine this for all it’s worth, there have also been suggestions they’ll be looking at how they can bring the expanded Star Wars universe onto the screen, perhaps creating an Avengers style series of linked spin-offs.
Here’s what George Lucas had to say, “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. 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.”
Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm and longtime blockbuster producer of the likes of ET and Jurassic Park, will become President of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn.
However while more Star Wars are promised, what about Indiana Jones? Well, that’s apparently a possibility, but it’s not as easy as a new Star Wars movie, because Paramount still has certain rights over the adventure series. It’s also worth noting that while Disney now owns the original six Star Wars films, they don’t have distribution rights. Fox has rights to the first film forever and the other five until 2020, although those hoping for box sets including all the movies may get their way, as Fox only gets a small sliver from its Star Wars distribution fee (about 6%) and so may be willing to negotiate with Disney.
In order to allay people’s fears, Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy took to the internet to talk about future plans for the Star Wars saga, so you can see what they had to say below.