In a move sure to shock fans of the Mouse House and George Lucas, the Walt Disney Company said Tuesday it has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in cash and stock. The company also announced that it is prepping Star Wars: Episode 7 for release in 2015.
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” Lucas, the sole shareholder of Lucasfilm, said in a press release announcing the acquisition. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.”
With the acquisition, Disney adds one of the world’s most enduring — and most profitable — sci-fi franchises to its ever-expanding stable. Disney, which has grown from humble animation company to massive media brand, successfully roped in Pixar in 2006 and bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009 (also for a $4 billion price tag). Buying Lucasfilm, Iger said, was in line with the Marvel acquisition: The move essentially means Disney has cornered the market on superhero and sci-fi/fantasy films.
I am a bit of a Star Wars fan, and while I tolerate the prequels (the lightsaber battles are very awesome), I think Disney will do a worse job. I cannot help but feel that George Lucas gave into the dark side on this. He did walk away with a couple of billion dollars, however, for a man who prided himself on total control over his work, it is a shame to see him giving it away like this.
This was a smart business move for Disney, but I think it was a smarter gender politics move. That was part of the reason they bought Marvel. Disney has struggled to win over a male audience, particularly boys. Most of their programming is geared towards girls, so acquiring Marvel gave them a chance to finally appeal to boys. Star Wars allows them to appeal to men and boys alike, and it given how hardcore many Star Wars fans are, it will be difficult, no matter how much they hate the empire known as Disney, to abandon their first love.
There is, however, a small plus: the next Kingdom Hearts game may officially include Luke Skywalker. For those who do not know, Tetsuya Nomura, the director of KH, specially requested Mark Hamill as the voice actor for Master Eraqus, the man who trains the key blade wielders, because the wielders are kind of like Jedi. Now he can just use Jedi. I must admit I would love to see a lightsaber key blade.
But otherwise, this is quite disconcerting.