Disney swoops in to acquire LucasFilm for $4bn

Disney swoops in to acquire LucasFilm for $4bn
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

October 30th 2012 at 8:10PM

Walt Disney Company paying $2bn in cash in deal that includes developer LucasArts and a new Star Wars 7 film

Disney has acquired LucasArts parent company Lucasfilm in a deal worth $4.05 billion.

Half of the transaction will be paid in cash and through the issue of approximately 40 million shares.

The deal includes the purchase of game developer LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound.

Under the terms of the acquisition, Disney said the "present" intent was for all LucasFilm employees to remain in the current locations.

Disney also revealed it is to begin work on Star Wars Episode 7, slated for a 2015 release.

Further feature films beyond Episode 7, including 8 and 9, are also planned as Disney looks to expand the franchise in future

In reaction to the deal, a LucasArts spokeswoman has told Develop that it is "business as usual" for the Star Wars developer, and that the team is "excited about all the possibilities that Disney brings".

“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said The Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger.

“This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”

Star Wars creator George Lucas added: “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 organisation, 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.”

Current LucasFilm co-chairman Kathleen Kennedy is to be apopinted president of the company, and will report to Walt Disney Studios chariman Alan Horn.

Update: In a conference call, as reported by Tech Crunch, Disney CEO Robert Iger said that for its game business the company would likely "focus on social and mobile more than console", but added it would look at console "opportunistically".

Iger also suggested that it could use licensing deals to allow other companies to make Star Wars titles for console.

Given a LucasArts spokeswoman has informed us that it is business as usual for current projects at the studio, this will likely have no affect on in-development titles such as Star Wars 1313.

During the conference call, Disney execs also said that during the last year gaming accounted for just under 20 per cent of LucasFilm revenue, with 25 per cent coming from film, another 25 per cent from consumer products and 30 per cent from other revenue streams.

Iger added that the purchase of LucasFilm should not affect its ambition to make Disney Interactive profitable over the next year.