Disney (NYSE:DIS) has announced it will acquire Lucasfilm, the company behind the Star Wars saga, in a $4.05 billion deal, also revealing with the announcement that it plans to release a seventh movie in the series.
The cash and stock deal adds Lucasfilm to a portfolio of stand-alone brands owned by Disney, including Marvel, ESPN, and Pixar. It also represents a sizeable payday for George Lucas, the creator of the series and sole owner of Lucasfilm.
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“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said Mr Lucas, chairman and chief executive of Lucasfilm. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.”
Disney’s “reach and experience” will help Lucasfilm “blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products,” he added.
Lucas will receive roughly $2 billion in cash, and the remainder in Disney stock, making him one of the company’s largest individual shareholders.
The deal for Lucasfilm is the third multi-billion dollar acquisition to be made under CEO Bob Igner, who also oversaw the $7.4 billion purchase of Pixar in 2006 and the $4 billion purchase of Marvel in 2009.
Though the deal will “mildly” dilute earnings in 2013 and 2014, Iger expects it to generate value almost immediately, and become earnings accretive by 2015, when he says the next Star Wars film will be released. Disney will release an additional film every one to two years after that.
Lucasfilm also brings with it a considerable consumer products business, with revenues in 2012 comparable to the $215 million generated by Marvel Entertainment before it was acquired in 2009. Lucasfilm’s licensing and merchandise potential, particularly in international markets, was a large part of its appeal for Iger.
The six Star Wars films have generated a grand total of $4.4 billion at the box office — no mean feat but hardly justifying Disney’s $4 billion acquisition offer alone. Disney will look to use “Star Wars” throughout its businesses, including theme parks, consumer products, and television, Iger said in a conference call Tuesday.
The deal also includes Lucasfilm’s prized high-tech production companies, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, as well as rights to the “Indiana Jones” franchise, the most recent film of which grossed $786.6 million at the box office globally.
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