In an oddly timed announcement in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, Disney has announced that they’ll be acquiring Lucasfilm for just over $4 billion. This brings Star Wars, Indiana Jones and an empire of stories and characters into the Disney realm.
Disney has already confirmed plans to film Star Wars Episode 7 for a 2015 release and increase the production schedule of future Star Wars films. Beyond that, there was no official word. However, sources close to the deal indicate that multiple interests are at play which certainly include the theme parks and possibly ABC as well.
For years, Imagineers have been designing concepts for Star Wars and Indiana Jones related attractions, lands and even entire theme park concepts. A rapid introduction of new Lucas content into the parks is practically assured. Expect chatter, rumors and leaks to follow as Disney tests interest in its newly purchased treasure trove.
While this purchase makes a great deal of sense for Disney, which has a track record of building and promoting franchises, StarWars has a rabid fan base which is already beginning to seethe with worry that their universe will be Disneyfied and diminished (Disney had to fight similar concerns when it purchased Marvel). Disney fans are much more likely to be supportive of the deal as Star Wars attractions and festivals are already a major part of the Disney experience.
Lucas will also provide Disney with the magic bullet it needs to battle the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which Universal Studios is doubling the size of in Orlando and building in Hollywood. The boy wizard poses such a serious threat to Disney’s theme park dominance that Bob Iger was pressured to ink a surprise deal with James Cameron to build an Avatar Land at Disney’s Animal kingdom and other Disney parks. That news was met with general disappointment from Disney fans and investors. The Lucas Star Wars opportunity should vindicate Iger and cement his legacy as a visionary leader of the Disney company. Under Iger’s leadership of Disney, the company has mended fences with many partners alienated by Michael Eisner and has successfully purchased PIXAR, Marvel and now Lucasfilm. That’s a massive amount of viable franchise content, enough to boost Disney profits and growth for many years to come.
Why was Disney in such a hurry to make this announcement on a day of tragedy, when even the stock market was closed? It should not be lost on our readers that the leak of plans for the upcoming Avatar Land and the announcement of the Lucasfilm purchase come just days before Universal’s highly anticipated announcement about upcoming theme park plans on Thursday. Poor timing from a sensitivity standpoint, but effective when it comes to stealing thunder from Universal.
Now, we turn to you, our brilliant readers. Aside from the inevitable slew of Star Wars films which are sure to follow in rapid succession, what else would you like to see? TV shows, theme park rides, merchandise? What are the ideas and concepts which have you most excited (or even worried) about the Disney Lucasfilm deal?