Two of the biggest entertainment names on the planet have joined forces.
The Walt Disney Co. has acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in cash and stock and announced a newStar Wars movie to be released in 2015.
Kathleen Kennedy, who is currently the head of Lucasfilm, will be president of Lucasfilm.
Disney is paying about half the purchase price in cash and will issue 40 million shares of stock, the company said in a statement Tuesday.
Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Warsfeatures, with the franchise’s creator and Lucasfilm founder George Lucas, 68, serving as creative consultant. There are plans to release a new Star Wars film every two or three years
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said Lucas, chairman and CEO of Lucasfilm, in a statement. “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.”
The deal comes on the heels of Disney’s 2009 acquisition of Marvel Entertainment and its 2006 purchase of Pixar Animation Studios, two potent entertainment brands that appeal to families. The Disney board has approved the Lucasfilm acquisition, but it is subject to antitrust scrutiny by the U.S. government.
While Lucas and Disney have had a long relationship, it has been most visible at the company’s theme parks, where Star Tours and other attractions have been popular for more than two decades.
However, the Stars Wars movies have been distributed through 20th Century Fox, which will now be cut out of future Star Wars and other related business. (Although Fox already has been set to release 3D versions of the past Star Wars movies, it is unclear whether that relationship will be affected by the sale. The acquisition also raises questions about the future of Stars Wars: The Clone Wars, a highly popular series on Cartoon Network, which is owned by a Disney competitor, Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner.)