This week's Tip Tuesday post will take a back seat to the major, galactic-sized news that came out late today - Disney is buying Lucasfilm for just over 4 billion.
There's a lot of news already out on this developing story, so I won't spend much time on the finer details. Instead, I will share my thought on what this new acquisition will mean for Disney and for the parks.
To recap, here are the basic details of the deal, announced today:
- Disney will own Lucasfilm, including all the affiliated operations like Industrial Light and Magic, Lucas Arts and Skywalker sound.
- Disney will own the rights to all Lucasfilm characters and stories - this includes Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
- Kathleen Kennedy, current co-chair of Lucasfilm will become President of Lucasfilm and will come under the Walt Disney Studios.
- Total purchase price is $4.05 billion. This deal has yet to be approved by certain government antitrust regulations.
- Lucas will become a major shareholder of Disney - the 10th largest.
Official Disney news release
Starwars.com video announcement by George Lucas
Coverage by CNBC.com
Coverage by the Wall Street Journal
But wait... there's more!
As if the purchase announcement wasn't enough, Lucas dropped another proton torpedo: Star Wars: Episode 7 is coming in a few years. Yes, you read this correctly - Episode 7!!! In an interview on Starwars.com, Lucas revealed he has developed story treatments for Episodes 7, 8 and 9. Episode 7 is in story development and is initially slated for release in 2015. Bob Iger, Disney CEO indicated additional Star Wars films could be coming out every two or three years following Episode 7.
So it seems fairly certain that we will have a new Star Wars trilogy for an entirely new generation of Star Wars fans.
So what will this mean for Disney and for the parks?
First, it means Disney, literally, has a whole new galaxy of characters and story material to draw from. It also means that you will see a lot more Star Wars and Indiana Jones coming to the parks. Could this be the final hurdle for the long-rumored "Star Wars land" at Disney Hollywood Studios? Could this lead to something even bigger -- an entirely new 5th park? I suspect we may hear some major, major, major (did I say major?) announcements at the D23 Expo next August related to Star Wars, both in terms of movies and the parks -- oh and there's also consumer products as well. There's so much to this deal.
Here's what I think this deal also means (though I have little to back this up, so it's just my gut feeling): Avatar-land at Animal Kingdom is dead. There have been reports that the deal between James Cameron and Disney was becoming shaky over investment prices and creative control. I suspect now that Disney and Lucasfilm are in the same family, James Cameron will be left out in the cold. I could be wrong, but, to quote every Star Wars movie, "I have a bad feeling about this."
The more I think about this deal, the more I start to see what Iger's legacy will be for the Disney company. Walt's legacy is Mickey Mouse and Disneyland. He started it all. Eisner's legacy is reinvigorating Disney animation and growing the parks. Iger's legacy will be growing the Disney family. Think about it. Under Iger's leadership, Disney has purchased Pixar, Marvel and now Lucasfilm. In the span of only a few years, Disney's book of available stories and characters has exploded and the Disney family is larger than ever.
I personally can't wait to see just how far Disney/Lucasfilm can go together. I'm ready to again jump into hyperspace to a galaxy far, far away.
The Force is with us.