News Column

The Force Is Now With Disney

Oct. 31, 2012

By Mike Snider

Disney

Luke Skywalker is joining Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear and Iron Man in Disney's growing stable of heroes.

Disney purchased Star Wars studio Lucasfilm Tuesday for $4 billion, culminating a 1-year negotiation with founder George Lucas, says Disney CEO Robert Iger. Three years ago, Disney acquired Marvel -- home of Spider-Man and Thor -- for $3.96 billion; it purchased Pixar for $7.6 billion in 2006.

And if that weren't enough of a disturbance in the Force, it was revealed that new Star Wars films are in the works. Star Wars: Episode VII is due in 2015, and another two films will fill out that trilogy; the new releases will appear biannually.

"This is one of the great entertainment properties of all time,'' Iger says. "It's just fantastic for us to have the opportunity to buy it, run it and grow it."

Lucas will consult on the new films but plans to retire. He founded Lucasfilm in 1971 and has been its sole owner.

"For 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," he said in a statement. "It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers."

The Indiana Jones franchise is part of the deal, too, along with Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound and game company LucasArts.

Among those surprised by the news was film historian Leonard Maltin. "Obviously Disney, as they did with Marvel, is investing in a blue-chip property that will yield dividends for years to come," he says.

As for new films, "it remains to be seen if they revive the characters. There are a lot of unanswered questions."



Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2012