The Walt Disney Company announced plans to buy Star Wars franchise producer, Lucasfilm. This means that Star Wars and any other film produced by Lucasfilm outright would now be a part of the Disney catalog.
In an announcement that sent ripples through one of the largest fan communities on the planet, the Walt Disney Company revealed that they would be buying Lucasfilm, Ltd. for $4 billion. The acquisition would mean that the six-movie Star Wars franchise would be added to the already diverse portfolio of Disney characters and movies. Disney then said in the same announcement that there would be a seventh Star Wars movie due out in 2015.
Lucasfilm is owned in full by George Lucas, which means the $4 billion would go entirely to him. He will also get 40 million shares in Disney stock, making him the second to the late Steve Jobs in largest non-institutional stockholders for the company. In an interview with the press, he announced that the move was done in an effort to retire. He was glad to have seen the franchise transition from generation to generation at this point, but it was his belief that it was time for a new group of filmmakers to carry on the Star Wars legacy. Lucas will remain a creative consultant for the newest Star Wars installment, but would retire soon.
Reactions to the news among fans and movie critics alike have been mixed. Film critic and historian, Leonard Maltin, has expressed cautious optimism in regard to how Disney will handle the production of the new movie and their ambition to keep the story going indefinitely. His first reaction to the announcement of the sale was one of surprise. Many of the devoted fans have had the same reaction of caution. There is a thought that Disney will do well by the franchise, but the negative reactions are quite strong among the devoted. Some see it as a betrayal and that any further continuation of the story is not going to do the original series justice. Time will tell as to who is right and how the story will end.
Lucasflim, Ltd. was started in 1971 and exists in Marin County, California. Up until the sale of the company, George Lucas was the founder, owner and CEO of the company and its subsidiaries. Disney’s plan to expand the franchise has been met with enthusiasm by Lucas.