Disney + Lucasfilm = $

Written by MiceAge. Posted in Disney, Disney News, MiceAge Update

Tagged: , , ,


Published on October 31, 2012 at 11:15 am with 74 Comments

Lucasfilm and Disney: Putting it all in Perspective.

It was a busy day yesterday. What with dealing with e-mail, lots of personal issues and hurriedly catching up with a friend who lives in New York City. Although lower Manhattan still had no electricity (everything was dark below 36th Street), things were fine at his place and thanks to some friends who lived above the demarcation line, he had somewhere to sleep for a couple of days until all the power was turned back on. Almost as an afterthought as we were ending our brief call, I asked if he’d heard about the Disney/Lucasfilm deal. With all that was going on, of course he missed hearing about it, but the news still managed to elicit some excitement from him. After all, Lucasfilm + Disney = $

Every day of course there are two kinds of news, the real world stuff which usually involves some kind of misfortune or catastrophe; and then those more mundane life, personality or business events that may involve any of our interests. Rarely do the two mix and hopefully the severity of the former helps keep the less important latter in proper perspective.

The last few years the Walt Disney Company has been getting very good at keeping their major business announcements under wraps until they’re good and ready, so I actually felt a little sorry for Bob Iger as Disney’s meticulously crafted news releases and video presentations about the Lucasfilm deal hit the media right in the aftermath of one of the worst storms to hit the eastern United States in decades.

Whether they had an ironclad date to stick to, or were suddenly trying to jump in front of a perceived leak, the less than optimal timing took away from yet another major coup for the man who will probably go down in history as the second most transforming executive the company has ever had. Just as Walt Disney continued to retool and rethink his vision of what his company could do, Iger has put together a series of deals that for the most part grow and strengthen the creative trunk of the company, allowing it to branch out into more markets and business areas.

With one exception (the Avatar deal – trust me, the question “What were they thinking?” is a valid one), it’s clear that most of the acquisitions smartly complement existing assets, as they broaden Disney’s core audience. Reading through the press materials it’s clear that the first focus will be on the Star Wars franchise, with the Indiana Jones properties looked at further on down the line as they resolve any issues with Paramount and may buy out their rights to that series.

So, what does this mean for Disney’s domestic parks? Actually, right at this moment, not all that much. Star Tours 2.0 is in place, and other than the entertainment folks probably discussing rather heatedly whether Princess Leia deserves a spot next to all the other Disney Princesses at the meet ‘n greets and parades, the Marvel projects coming down the pipeline are the current priority.

Further on down the line, while I don’t foresee any standalone Lucaslands, I do think it’s likely that we’ll see the Star Wars franchise along with Marvel taking center stage at the Disneyland Resort’s third park. Something to also note is the one year extension that ComicCon just negotiated with San Diego. It will be interesting to see what happens after that, and if they get serious about Anaheim again. As for Florida we know Kathy Magnum (the Imagineer in charge of building CarsLand) is now out there, and her rumored focus is on the Studios Park, which is in dire need of some attention.

Overseas, the word is that Star Wars is a major component of the new Shanghai Park’s Tomorrowland. An educated guess would be that Oriental Land in Tokyo would like to consider an expansion in that area also.

For all the Star Wars/Indy fans fretting over this acquisition, I think they need to look to the horrifying way that Paramount has mishandled the Star Trek franchise. One need only look at how both Pixar and Marvel now operate under The Mouse to see the much better possibilities. They can also hope that George Lucas steps back a bit. (Wouldn’t Brad Bird be a great choice to helm Star Wars 7?)

The deal also includes all the other businesses Lucas is involved in, such as Industrial Light and Magic, THX, as well the Skywalker Ranch. It will be interesting to see what Disney ultimately does with those boutique enterprises.

So is this all a good thing? I think so, and it certainly addresses all the questions everyone had about Universal’s Harry Potter deal giving the Disney Resorts some good competition. Remember, JK Rowling has completed the Potter series of books, while Disney plans a continuing run of Star Wars sequels ramping up right away.

I’ve said before this is a good time for theme park fans, as all the major players have been increasing their efforts. We are going to see some great new attractions and themed environments over the next few years as they continue to one up each other with what they can do. It’s going to be a blast!

What do you think of the deal? Go ahead and post your thoughts below…

See you at Disneyland…

About MiceAge

The MiceAge crew was started by Al Lutz in 2003, and is committed to bringing you the inside Disney story that you just can't get anywhere else. As much as we'd all like to see more frequent rumor updates on the site, we only publish when reliable news and rumors are available to share. The MiceAge news Editor can be reached at: [email protected]

Browse Archived Articles by

  • Wren

    I see nothing but good coming from this

    • mratigan

      same here

    • tonecapo

      One of the best moves ever made by the Disney Company. Very excited for the future of the Disney Resorts. Imagining how all Disney theme parks will benefit from the Star Wars universe is too much. The possibilities are almost endless. Then to see what Imagineering actually does with the Lucas properties. #mindblown

  • I’ve never been more excited about the future of the Disney Company. This was a brilliant purchase on many levels. Bob has earned a lot of extra respect.

    • cidbliq

      My thoughts exactly. This is a win/win for everyone.

  • Country Bear

    I agree that this is great news for Disney, Al. Lucas holds some of the richest properties not only in value but also in wealth of material to work with. Hopefully Disney will be proactive about using it in their theme parks as opposed to sitting on it just because they own it. I’m guessing the soonest we would see any different theme park attractions based on Star Wars would likely be 3-5 years away at best.

    • TodAZ1

      Disney definitely won’t be sitting on the Star Wars property. Read this from DarkHorizons.com:
      “While Disney will own and release future films in the “Star Wars” series, the deal does NOT include the distribution rights to the pre-existing “Star Wars” films.

      Those rights remain with 20th Century Fox. In fact, Fox owns distribution rights to the original 1977 “Star Wars” film in perpetuity in all media worldwide.

      It also has theatrical, nontheatrical and home video rights worldwide to the other five films in the series through May 2020.

      This means Disney can’t issue a ‘complete saga’ set unless a deal with Fox is made. It also means fan hopes for quality Blu-ray editions of the theatrical cuts of the original trilogy are highly unlikely.

      Fox also plans to still re-release the 3D versions of “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” next Fall.”

      So, Disney’s only option to make serious bank on Star Wars is to make new ones. And, most likely, better ones that the prequels Lucas put out.

      • redmars

        I though Fox just got a flat rate for distributing Star Wars. Like 10% or something. So even if they have to distribute through Fox, Disney will still make the lion’s share of money off of any re-releases of the original trilogy and the prequels. I read elsewhere that the Lucasfilms deal is considerably more favorable for Disney than Marvel exactly for this reason. Not to mention, Disney already has all of the licensing rights for theme parks.

  • Gullywhumper

    This puts George Lucas’ visit to The Walt Disney Family Museum a couple weeks ago in a new light. I have to admit, though I usually don’t like non Disney entities in the Disney Theme Parks, if handled right, this will be fantastic for future Disney Theme Parks/Theme Park Expansions. Plus, I can’t wait to see what ILM might have to add to WDI in the way of talent and technology!

  • Gregg Condon

    I am very excited about this and don’t see any negatives (for now).

    It all depends on who they bring in the helm Episode VII. If it’s Brad Bird, David Yates, Guillermo Del Toro, Peter Jackson, Joss Whedon, JJ Abrams, Andrew Stanton or even Joe Johnston attached then I’ll be very hopeful.

    If it’s Bruckheimer then I’ll be highly disappointed as this would be worse than Lucas IMO.

    I’m sure the geek-trusts at both Pixar and Marvel are salivating over the opportunity to get their hands on Star Wars and I think there will be involvement from the talent of both studios. If this is the case, Star Wars is in great hands.

    • jcruise86

      Good list of directors. I’d add Joss Whedon
      and (if they seemed really excited by it) Danny Boyle and Tom Hooper.
      Brad Bird is always great and proved he can direct a very good live action movie with the last Mission Impossible.

      I wouldn’t want Spielberg this decade, and if Michael Bay is named as the director. . . well, that won’t happen. I hope the director isn’t a Lucas-worshipping yes man who goes along with all of Lucas’ ideas–not after episodes 1, 2, & 3.

      I’d like both Space Mountains replaced with larger space roller coaster attractions named “Star Wars.” On the outside, I’d like the current Space Mtn.s to become space mtn. ranges.

      • ayalexander

        yes, and the “star wars” -Space Mountains would have giant floating paragraphs that you have to dodge, bob & weave through!

      • Internitty

        A Space Mountain with a run on the Death Star trench would be fun. Also with the exception of Michael Bay wouldn’t ANYONE do a better job at directing a Star Wars film than George Lucas? Also also I want to see Darth Vader and Iron Man duke it out.

  • Monorail Man

    Thanks for the insight Al.

    From a studio perpective, this creates an interesting situation. Lots of movie companies use ILM and Skywalker Sound. If these are owned under Disney, these companies will not want to directly pay one of their competitors. I could see Disney spinning them off, or holding them – causing the other companies to either move to different CGI/Sound sources, or starting up there own.

    From the theme parks angle, I always thought that boiling down a huge franchise to just a simulator ride was just not enough for Star Wars. Really hope we get a Star Wars land or park!

    From a rights perspective, Fox still owns the rights to distribute the first three films. It would make sense why Disney would want to get some new movies in the can right away, so they can start collecting on the purchase.

    • BC_DisneyGeek

      Will that really be much of an issue? Disney filmed Desperate Housewives on the Universal lot. Disney airs Modern Family, a show they licence from Fox.

      As long as ILM remains the best in the business, I don’t see too many companies shying away from using them.

      • theswillmerchant

        Yeah, as BC_DisneyGeek said, film companies use other companies facilites and resources pretty regularly. I’m pretty sure that in the Disney call to the shareholders they mentioned that ILM would continue to operate as they always did (basically a hired gun).

      • Internitty

        I agree too, I don’t think the actual owners of ILM will make any difference to anyone. ILM’s biggest problem is that they are not the best in the business and they need to up their game and stop with the we were the first and best attitude, notice how many films Weta does effects for now? Weta are the current dominant force in the galaxy, I really think Lucas wanted out of ILM because it’s getting to be too much effort to keep up. I still think Skywalker Sound is the best recording facility for film though.

  • Disneykin Kid

    Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar, bringing Oswald back, yes Iger ‘gets it’ and has cemented his place as the greatest Disney head since Walt. I heard once that Eisner didn’t think that Iger was too smart, but it seems like Iger cares and has heart. which is much better than smarts.

    Maybe Disney can reboot Star Wars like Warners reboots Batman every few years. Go back to the original story where Luke’s father was NOT Darth Vader, but friend to Obi Wan.

    I always thought it was a mistake to make Darth Luke’s father, I heard that Lucas made the change when writing ESB, and it shows. It made Obi Wan look like a fool when he tries to explain it in ROTJ. And it made the prequels dark, instead of fun like the original.

    You can still have Darth claim that he’s Luke’s father, but explain it this way:
    Darth actually had an affair with Luke’s mother, so he BELIEVED he was the father. Darth killed Luke’s father, but Obi Wan wasn’t aware of the romantic conflict.

    Also, I heard that Han Solo was originally supposed to be killed, this would have made the end of Episode 6 melancholy, a good set up for the final trilogy. Just some thoughts.

    • Bubba B

      I think it was a brilliant move by Iger. He got it at half the price they paid for Pixar, which both shows how good a salesman Steve Jobs was and how badly Iger needed Pixar to stabilize the ship post-Eisner.

      Whatever they do with the Star Wars francise, it couldn’t be worse than remaking I-VI and making Padme an adulteress and Luke a bastard. I don’t see many parents lining up with their kids for that premiere. In the immortal words of Charles Oakley, “If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.”

      If Disney buys Lego next, they will have achieved a monopoly over my son’s childhood.

      • SpcMtn77

        “If Disney buys Lego next, they will have achieved a monopoly over my son’s childhood.”

        Exactly what I was thinking. Can’t say I mind too much.

      • ayalexander

        Thank you for that reply to Disneykin. That was funny. I would give you a thumbs up if only we had that icon for each reply…

    • Marko50

      Don’t believe it was Han Solo that was supposed to die – I heard it was Lando Calrissian.

      • Son Gohan

        Actually, at some point, they were both supposed to die. . . Harrison Ford felt that Han Solo should become a martyr to the Rebellion, and an ending was filmed where the Millennium Falcon (which was being piloted by Lando Calrissian at the time) was just a second late in escaping the Death Star before it exploded.

  • OriginalMousekteer

    @Monorail Man
    “Lots of movie companies use ILM and Skywalker Sound. If these are owned under Disney, these companies will not want to directly pay one of their competitors.”

    I couldn’t disagree more. The film industry has a long history of doing exactly that–renting costumes, props, and sets from each other and even shooting on each others’ soundstages and backlots. ILM’s reputation and experience stand on their own, so I don’t see Disney ownership as a very big factor.

  • [email protected]

    I think it is safe to say that the “Lucas Empire” is in safe hands. And I Do believe that Disney will use all of the Lucas movies in good taste and try keep the original spirit alive. But Disney does have a way of absorbing existing stories and put their own Disney spin to them. For example Peter Pan, Disney’s version was quite different than the original. Same as for most of the Princess based movies. Very different than the original stories. But that was when the minds eye was used because they were mostly novels, not pre-existing major motion pictures. The idea that in 10 years we will see a Darth Vader “Disneyized does not sit well with most SW fans. And the thought of a Star Wars based theme park is a tad too much for me to comprehend at this point. Oh well I guess this will keep the gossip and scutlebutt alive and well for years. Well done Disney, well done.

    • Internitty

      If you look at the excellent job Disney has done with the Marvel films since they took over I really don’t think Star Wars fans need worry about Vader being Disneyized, I truly believe Lucas’ films are in better hands now than they were with Lucas, yes I’m talking about the prequels again. Disney have a lot to prove with a new Star Wars film, they blew me away with The Avengers and Iron Man 3 is looking rock solid, I see episode 7 being more in line with The Empire Strikes back since Disney will be well aware of the dislike of episode 1 thru 3 and the generally lesser thinking toward ROTJ. Lucas put his seal of approval on MANY BAD BAD BAD novels that take place after ROTJ so I am sure whoever writes this film and green lights it will take all that into consideration and hopefully the director won’t inspire great actors to completely wooden performances.

  • Epcyclopedia

    We pretty much know what’s going on between now and 2015 stateside. All this really does is place major emphasis back the Studios-style parks through 2017.

    Great, let’s never invest in Epcot properly. While Al mentions that the Studios park is a hot mess – it is functioning at a much higher utilization rate than Epcot. Epcot is way waaaaaaay down compared to the attendance levels it was physically built for. Studios is built smaller and not meant to have attendance higher than Epcot, but at this rate, it probably will see more guests through the gates quite soon.

    If only everything wasn’t done from a Burbank perspective that doesn’t care about Epcot – every Lutz article essentially reflects that mentality, so at least he’s true to the thoughts of the powers that be. But no, let’s not work to fix the park that has worse utilization than DCA 1.0 at this point, let’s throw money at buying more companies. Dilute the brand more! God forbid something creative that was brought to life internally be taken off life support with some of the needed funds.

    • waymire01

      Just wanted to say that Epcot is our second favorite park at WDW.. second only to MK. The food, atmosphere, and uniqueness of the attractions brings us back time and time again. I also had heard of more renovations on the way there..with the end goal of the Innovations project not clear at this time and the refurb of Test Track.. I think it will be getting some attention. Agreed though that it certainly has more potential than is being utilized. I would be in agreement about the “dilution” of the brand except that Star Wars already has a large presence long established in both DL and WDW, so really we are looking at an extension of that existing facet of Disney. Marvel is a much larger dilution IMO.

      • Epcyclopedia

        From the way it sounds, Test Track was forced on Disney by GM/Chevrolet. The same sort of way Siemens was like “get rid of the stupid wand.” But funding of projects without sponsors just doesn’t happen. Nemo and Soarin are rare exceptions. People talk about how Nemo’s budget was doubled by canceling a renovation for Imagination – that’s how piddly Epcot’s funding is.

        As for Innoventions – they have NO REPLACEMENT for the failed Habit Heroes and IBM’s new THINK, while innovative and in the proper style for Epcot, is a re-install of an exhibit they originally made for a space in New York. There’s no development costs aside from removing what existed and then added a few minor features to help the new look fit the space. It’s dirt cheap.

        Even the dining we all bemoan as Epcot’s only investment is paid for by third parties. Chefs de France is paying for a 2-story bakery expansion and rennovation of Bistro de Paris. Patina Group paid for the two expansions in Italy. Mitsukoshi paid for the new Katsura Grill.

        Disney hasn’t dropped a dime. If you want to see money they’re spending on World showcase look at Norway and the hot mess the ride has become since the country and the consortium walked away.

        Disney is simply not investing properly in the park to keep it up to Disney’s own standards, nevermind Epcot’s standards (which are higher than much of Disney’s theme park empire (in terms of having very specific thematic statements and strict rules for visuals.)

    • ayalexander

      Has it ever occurred to you that these company purchases would come back to help Epcot? Adding Marvel and Star Wars without having to build a 5th park at WDW? After all… since Disney no longer tries to create real-to-life futuristic attractions… they do create a fantasy future best and what fits with fantasy future? Star Wars, Avatar, Marvel… So much can be done… almost infinite and that means places long forgotten like Epcot, will get much needed additions… probably in the near future. Think ahead my friend.

      • Internitty

        I totally agree, also aren’t the park decisions all made at WDW that was the terrorfying news when WDW took over and we all thought the second golden age of Disneyland was going to come to an end. The Lucasfilm take over is very little to do with the theme parks at the moment just as the Marvel take over has little to do with the theme parks too, ven if the Iron Man attraction is installed where Innovations is it’s just one intrusion, the purchase of Lucasfilm is more about making new films with a ready made audience and post production facilities that are already in demand.

  • BC_DisneyGeek

    The movies alone will take in a billion dollars each,plus merchandise sales.

    The savings on special effects for all those Marvel movies alone, by doing them “in-house” will be in the hundreds of millions.

    This strikes me as a deal that will pay for itself in no time.

    I hope some of the original cast is brought back for Episode 7. Harrsion Ford might be a tough sell, but I’m sure the rest will sign on.

    I hope we see Hamill speaking to Hayden Christensen’s ghost, just to make certain fanboys heads explode ;) .

    • ayalexander

      I heard from a another geeky friend that Ford asked to play Han Solo again, the minute Lucas told him of the negotiations of purchase by Disney.

  • Twist1234

    “Wouldn’t Brad Bird be a great choice to helm Star Wars 7?”
    No, the idea of making episode 7 would make even Jar Jar laugh.

    • Marko50

      The idea comes directly from Iger and Lucas. You *did* watch the video, didn’t you?

  • darkamor

    Fan Boys whining is what drove George Lucas to want to retire (& they can keep whining all they want as every Major Studio could’ve / should’ve made the offer the Walt Disney Co just did – but not a peep from Paramount, Universal, Warner Bros, or Fox – & it’s their loss!) ….

    the Walt Disney Co has STAR WARS & INDIANA JONES within their Theme Parks, so this is a strategic move which offers more for them minus paying royalty fees (& as much as I get tired of Disney’s endless schilling of merchandise? They do know how to sell the goods & Star Wars is a stronger brand then Marvel) ….

    If this forces Busch Gardens, Six Flags, Cedar Fair, Universal Theme Parks to team up with other major entertainment to improve their theme parks? It’s just more for theme park fans to look forward to in the future ….

    I may hate Jar Jar Binks, but I’ve enjoyed the written story within the Star Wars universe past Episode 6 Return of the Jedi (& I can’t wait to see what comes form this) :)

    C J

    • BC_DisneyGeek

      I imagine there could have bin a bidding war had Lucas gone that route, but I suspect he was looking for the best fit for Star Wars, as opposed to making the most money. It’s entirely possible no other studios were given the option of making an offer.


    I hate to disappoint, but there is no SW themed park planned or coming anytime soon. This purchase came as a HUGE surprise to the Disney company – just being pounded out in the last few weeks actually. And Cars Land (and it’s Imagineers) had a lot to do with easing the minds of George Lucas, et al. It was enough to make him go ahead with Disney taking over his legacy .

    And once again, Al must be using Kathy Lee Gifford’s fact checker for his “inside” information.

    AND – How has Paramount ruined the Star Trek franchise? Seems to me they re-launched it with a billion $$$ world wide move 2 years ago and a new $$$$ making one coming up in 2013? How is that a miss Al?


    And I just love it when Al gets scooped by the mainstream media outlets. :-)

    • Gregg Condon

      Not sure how Al got “Scooped by mainstream media” when Disney had a Press Release. Can you please explain?

    • redmars

      Yeah, I don’t feel like he got scooped – no other media outlet had this until Disney released it. Besides, his main beat is Disneyland. And there isn’t anything specifically about Disneyland in the Lucasfilms/Star Wars announcement. I would like to know what this means for Avatar at WDW. Perhaps Al can start calling his sources!

    • indianajack

      Paramount wrecked the Star Trek franchise, that is true. There hasn’t been a TV series for seven years, and the last series, Enterprise, was meh. The last movie was good but Star Trek belongs on TV with its strong storylines of metaphors, allegories and ethical dilemmas, not action-packed movies. We also lost the great Star Trek Experience in Vegas, that loss alone is a huge mishandling by Paramount.

      I’m hopeful of this news that Disney will be a good steward of Star Wars. I’m hoping that down the line they can sort out the issues with Paramount to get Indy back into action. That’s the property that means the most to me.

      • Gregg Condon

        The Star Trek Experience was part of “Paramount Parks” not Paramount Studios. That was closed when Cedar Fair bought the parks and that was part of the deal. I don’t think Paramount Pictures had anything to do with that.

        As far as the Star Trek TV franchise, I actually liked Enterprise. It’s obvious right now their focus is on movies and I’d still LOVE to see another TNG movie before it’s all said and done. I’m sure Trek will come back to TV at some point.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    I have long felt that people don’t want to go to a studio park to see how a movie it made but to be in a movie. Walt got that and made Disneyland partly as a film set to put the guests IN the action. Universal finally got it with Harry Potter, no longer trying to show how the magic is made and instead putting the guests in the show.

    I am concerned that the Star Wars franchise is waning. The last three films were duds. The fans are now older, many are parents or grand-parents now. (The original Star Wars came out in 1977!) All that to say, another studio could come out with a new space soap-opera and steel away this current generation easily. I would hope that Disney makes this new Star Wars movie a huge hit. Otherwise, a new theme park devoted to Star Wars could be just a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

    • Epcyclopedia

      Universal Studios Florida has never focused on the backstage aspects of the movies and movie making. They use facade and set decor around their attractions but the attractions themselves are always intended to put guests into the action. Only a few small items like the Horror Makeup show and the now-extinct Hitchcock attractions had any focus on how movies were made.

      Also, Harry Potter is in Universal’s second park, Islands of Adventure. IOA has absolutely nothing to do with movie making or going backstage.

      That whole schtick was almost entirely Disney’s via MGM Studios.

      King Kong put you in an aerial tram evacuating, Jaws put you on a boat tour of Amity, Back to the Future had you riding a Delorean. Universal’s tagline was “Ride the movies!” not “Come see how movie magic is made!”

      • Marko50

        Ah. Spoken like a true Floridian.

        I think Disney-MGM got the idea of showing how movies are made from Universal Studios. The original in California. There have been lots of how-to attractions at that venue including the original tram tour and most of the old stage shows.

      • ayalexander

        I just have to say in my opinion and that of any true Disney geek… when comparing a universal ride to a top notch or classic Disney attraction… Universals sucks! They can create thrills, laughs and okay adventure… but they don’t know how to “dress it up” as Walt would say. I went on Jurassic Park -my favorite movie I might add, and you could look through the creases of the dinosaurs and into their hollow bodies! The Primeval World Diorama may not be any world renown technical achievement, but the one thing I love about it is at least you can’t peek through massive creases between moving limbs!

        Transformers the ride also sucks… you call that ride vehicle a car? Its a box on a very revealing ride platform that takes you to one movie screen after another with animation quality close to that of Call of Duty 4!!!!