The Walt Disney Co. Tuesday announced three shocking pieces of news: That it is buying Lucasfilm, Ltd. for over $4 billion, that it plans to revive the “Star Wars” film franchise beginning in 2015 and that George Lucas will not play a major role in the new film.
Lucasfilm, which consists of the rights to the six previous “Star Wars” movies and all of the ancillary content and intellectual property created over the last 35 years- in addition to various lucrative proprietary technologies- has always been owned by Lucas personally. The $4.05 billion purchase price is split evenly between cash and Disney stock.
Lucas, who has said in recent years that he plans to step away from blockbuster filmmaking, made that decision official in a statement:
“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.
The first new film will function as a sequel to the original “Star Wars” trilogy, set after the events of “Return of the Jedi.” Lucas will serve as a “creative consultant,” with Kennedy, his longtime collaborator, overseeing Lucasfilm as a division of Disney.
Disney, in the announcement, likened the acquisition to its previous purchases of Pixar Animation Studios and Marvel.