George Lucas has just sold out to Disney, ladies and gentlemen, for the tidy sum of $4.05 billion in stock and cash. The deal, announced just minutes ago, represents Lucas' desire to "set up the transition" of the Star Wars franchise "to the next generation of filmmakers." Also, it may reflect on the fact that Lucas thinks the movie industry is on its way out anyway.
According to a tweet from NYT columnist Dave Itzkoff, the code name for Disney's acquisition project was Project Valor. "Not kidding."
From the release:
Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, a leader in entertainment, innovation and technology, including its massively popular and “evergreen” Star Wars franchise and its operating businesses in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production. Disney will also acquire the substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies that have kept audiences enthralled for many years. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, and the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations.
In 2006, Lucas gave a speech at USC, his alma mater, following a $175 million donation, saying that he believed that the film industry was dying and that Lucasfilm would be shifting their attentions from the big screen to the small screen. Today Lucas is saying, "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."
Of course, this acquisition follows on Disney's swallowing up of another Bay Area company, Pixar, which still maintains its own creative autonomy and one-movie-a-year schedule, despite some rumored pressure to pump out a little more.
Also, expect the 7th installment of Star Wars to hit theaters in 2015, for which Lucas will serve as creative consultant.