Disney announced that it will pay $4 billion to purchase Marin-based Lucasfilm, Ltd. from filmmaker George Lucas.
The company also announced that Star Wars: Episode 7 is expected to be released in 2015 and they plan to release one film every two to three years after that. With the last movie, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, released in 2005, the franchise has earned $4.4 billion to date, and continued global demand has made the series one of the world’s top product brands and Lucasfilm a leading product licensor in the United States in 2011.
The deal follows Disney's other recent acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel. In addition to Star Wars, the acquisition includes rights to the Indiana Jones franchise, Lucasfilm’s post production businesses, Industrial Light and Magic, Skywalker Sound and a suite of entertainment technologies.
Lucas will still be involved in the creative process for future Star Wars films and retain ownership of his Marin ranches. Lucasfilm co-chair Kathleen Kennedy will become the new president and report to Walt Disney Studios.
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said Lucas, who lives in San Anselmo. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers."
This summer, Lucas donated downtown San Anselmo property that will be turned into a park with statues of Yoda and Indiana Jones. The San Anselmo Chamber is currently raising funds for the project.
Several months ago, Lucas made national headlines when he pulled the plug on his proposed film studio at his Grady Ranch property in North San Rafael by offering to work with Marin Community Foundation to bring affordable housing to Grady Ranch. The move capped a turbulent series of events in which Lucasfilm proposed a 269,000 square foot film studio on Grady Ranch but then faced staunch opposition from a group of Lucas Valley neighbors, who filed an appeal of the Marin County Planning Commission's February 2012 approval of the project.
Faced with a likely drawn-out approval process, Lucas withdrew all permits and applications for the project but has pledged to help the Marin Community Foundation's efforts to explore the possibility for senior housing, workforce housing and family housing on the location, according to MCF Executive Director Thomas Peters.
The Disney acquisition will focus on growing the Star Wars consumer products business internationally, according to Senior Executive Vice President Jay Rasulo.
"Today, Star Wars is heavily skewed toward toys and North America," he said. "We see great opportunity domestically to extend the breadth and depth of the Star Wars franchise into other categories."