Disney's purchase of Lucasfilms a smart movie-making move for brand
BY MICHAEL SMITH World Scene Writer
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
10/31/12 at 6:53 AM
Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo are now working for Disney.
With the announcement by Disney on Wednesday that it was buying the world of "Star Wars" from George Lucas and was planning future films - with the first set for 2015 - much of the talk will center around where the series picks up with a seventh movie.
The Associated Press is reporting the new film will be called "Episode 7."
When will it be set? Will it follow the chronology, which means events after "The Return of the Jedi," released in 1983? If not Lucas, whose mythology will we be following?
All are intriguing questions to be answered in the next couple of years. What is arguably just as interesting is Disney's latest major purchase.
When my family visited Disney World this summer for the first time, we rode the "Star Tours" ride, based on a "Star Wars" space shuttle ride taking guests on a 3-D tourist trip to the ice planet of Hoth.
Sitting a few feet from an animatronic C-3PO and R2-D2 on this adventure, the movie-critic part of my brain wondered about the relationship between Disney and George Lucas.
His movies were all released by Twentieth Century Fox, but as a businessman, he clearly realized that the Disney brand is a great marketing opportunity for the lucrative merchandising end of his space saga.
When Disney agreed on Tuesday to spend $4.05 billion to buy Lucasfilm Ltd., it made all the sense in the moviegoing world, as well as the Disney World.
Disney spent $7.4 billion in 2006 to buy Pixar and brought Buzz Lightyear, Nemo and all their animated friends to the Mouse House. The move returned Disney's status to that of undisputed king of animated films.
In 2009, Disney spent $4 billion to purchase Marvel Entertainment, and with the success of films like "The Avengers" (the No. 1 movie of 2012 with $1.5 billion-plus at the worldwide box-office) and more to come, that bet looks to be paying off, as well.
Disney was already cornering the market on young children, as well as teen moviegoers with those moves, and the "Star Wars" purchase solidifies their standing in the market, especially with concern to merchandising.
The figures announced a few years ago remain astounding, and they bear repeating: "Star Wars" movies have grossed $4.4 billion in their lifetime; home entertainment for the series has seen revenues of $3.8 billion; toys and merchandising rights have accounted for $20 billion.
Original Print Headline: The force is now with Disney after $4B deal
"Darth Vader" accepts the Ultimate Villain award from "Star Wars" creator George Lucas during the 2011 Scream Awards in Los Angeles. A decade after Lucas said "Star Wars" was finished on the big screen, a new trilogy is destined for theaters after The Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday that it was buying Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4.05 billion. CHRIS PIZZELLO / Associated Press file