Disney + Lucasfilm = $

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

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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]

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  • coasterboy

    According to the press release, the deal does NOT include Skywalker Ranch. Businesses, yes, property, no.

  • bayouguy

    Then I would find it somewhat unlikely that there will be another 30% increase in annual passes next year? Or the next? What does it mean that Disney will experience profit from this but still want to make price increases to tickets and passports? The “business” excuse is getting old.

  • MikeChat

    I’m a wee bit concerned how this might affect the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/501st_Legion][color=blue][u]501st legion[/url][/color][/u]. Disney has a reputation of being really strict and ruthless about suing people for wearing Disney costumes. If you suit up as a Disney character for Halloween at a private party, even if you aren’t making money, Disney will sue. I hope this new regime isn’t equally strict with the 501st.

  • waymire01

    Just hoping that the new movies make enough money to pay for more rehab on the existing rides, parks, and resorts we all love. Really liking what’s been going on in all the parks for the last few years… not only some major new additions but improvement to existing ones. Just please don’t kill off any more classic rides.

  • eicarr

    I’ve never been so grateful that Paul Pressler put in a crummy Disneyland Tomorrowland that needs to be replaced ASAP.

  • eicarr

    How ironic, Disney’s ILM did the footage for the new Transformers ride opening in Orlando to compete with Disneyworld.

    I hope they’ll now be able to get a more lifelike version of Harrison Ford with his actual voice in the Indiana Jones ride.

  • G24T

    This is the Mega-deal of the century as far as entertainment goes! Despite the unfortunate circumstances surrounding its announcement I believe that Disney has bought years worth of publicity just with the announcement that they’re green-lighting three more Star Wars sequels. If Disney copies the model that they used to produce The Avengers then Star Wars fans and the general public are in for an EPIC adventure!

  • maggiespot

    I love this idea! I think Disney can do wonders with Lucasarts but my one concern as a HUGE Star Wars fan is that they’ll go quick and dirty with Episode 7 and completely disregard the extended universe so many people have put in time to help build. This could either be the most amazing thing to happen in my lifetime, or the worst, in that regard.

  • Asa

    Bob Iger is going to buy Studio Ghibli next. Hayao Miyazaki is also ready to retire soon. Totoro and co will join Mickey, Minnie, the princesses, Darth Vader, Iron Man, Thor, Woody, Buzz Lightyear… etc at Disneyland.

    • Internitty

      I’d love to see Studio Ghibli represented in the Disney Parks since Disney already do the English voice versions of the Studio Ghibli films. Maybe the tird Anaheim park could have an anime land.

  • Zeathos51

    I’m not sure if anyone is reading this down this far but I had to say something. I think the film industry is getting to the point where directors and companies are going to keep adding to classic sagas. I thought the Star Wars films were over but now it seems like they’ll be going on for a while and hey, I’m looking forward to see how different directors tell the story.

    And Al, I completely agree with you about Star Trek. I never attended the conventions, but the prop tours and the Experience in Vegas were some of the best attractions I remember and as soon as they’re here, they’re gone. Star Trek needs a home at Disneyland or Universal. Even Knotts Berry farm.

    Plus the addition of Industrial Light and Magic sounds great. Hopefully if Disney hires me some day, that means an easier transferabiliy from television to animation and effects which I study on the side.

    Thanks for another clear update.

    Does this mean they’ll be making a Mickey Mouse cartoon based on the Star Wars Mickey and friends figures?

    • Internitty

      In 1983 Lucas made a documentary in which he spoke about NINE Star Wars films, three set before Star Wars and three set after ROTJ, when he made three bad films set before Star Wars he began denying he ever said anything about 9 films and he didn’t know where anyone ever got that idea, my old video tape of the documentary doen’t lie though, he claimed he already had an outline of where he wanted to go with the stories but after the prequels were made I seriously doubt he really did.

  • PinkMonorail

    I agree with every single word Al Lutz wrote.
    It IS a good thing.
    There have been people worrying that Disney will treat SW like they treated the Muppets, but that “quick-and-cheap” regime is gone.

    • Internitty

      Yeah and the last Muppet movie was a vast improvement, I really liked it anyway. I think Star Wars will be treated with the respect Lucas hasn’t treated it with in a long time. Disney has done a wonderful job wiht the last few Marvel films I think we can expect big things from the new Star Wars films but after the prequels didn’t really set the bar too high.

  • notlemc

    This article was all speculation. There were very little facts in it, and whatever facts were over saturated with Al’s personal opinion. Al writes great opinion pieces, but personally I just want the facts and will come up with my own opinion.

    • Internitty

      Define “blog”

  • mbyrd

    I’m concerned. I love Star Wars, but I’m not sure I really even want another movie. I think the prequels were good as a whole (certainly not individually like 3,4,5), but I’m nervous about 7,8,9.

  • MrTeeLee

    With the monstrous amounts of money that is flowing through the Disney company, its unfortunate that they’ve made the cost of being a annual passholder prohibitive and only for the elite. If they can pay uber billions for Lucas and Marvel, then why can’t they somehow give a break to the middle class? Don’t get me wrong, love Disney, but can’t afford the “Land”.

    • ayalexander

      The reason why Disney’s annual passes are so expensive is because in a manner of one month earlier this year… it went from 800 thousand to 1 million. The parks cannot support 1 million annual passholders… imagine all the events, discounts, and numbers attending the parks! By upping the price they reduce the rate the passports are bought up. After all, there are only 365 days out of the year, and there are 1 million annual passholders and climbing… most in which REALLY use the crap out of their passes!

      Another problem is the fact of Events in the parks… like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Time and New Years Eve -all days that AP can get in, but as time waxes, it gets harder to get in without having to close the turnstiles early. I can’t tell you how many AP’s almost pooped a brick when they couldn’t get in during both park lockouts last New Years Eve. AP’s have a habit of thinking they are above all “day guests” because they spent more, when in actuality they spent less. A premium AP pays itself the first 5 or 6 times they visit the park, the “day guest” pays in FULL for a week trip, so naturally, disney is MORE concerned with the “day guest”.

      Its just funny because when I visit the parks I hear so much banter from the AP’s about how they’ve been pass holders for years and deserve this that and the other, but in reality… they didn’t pay for VIP service, they paid for a discount service card! -to put it in perspective.

    • MikeChat

      If enough people stopped buying annual passes, they would lower the price: supply and demand.

      If there were Disney Parks in other major cities in America the cost would be much lower, although I agree it wouldn’t offset the travel cost though. But the people living in those areas (Phoenix, El Paso, San Antonio) would not have to travel to L.A. and they would get a lower price.

      Los Angeles County which is a stone’s throw away from Disneyland is the most populous(sp?) county in the United States, to say nothing about Orange and San Diego Counties. So with all those people who don’t have to travel very far, there are quite a few who can afford the AP’s. It’s unfortunate, but that’s supply and demand.

      I for one am willing to pay extra $$$ to have a less crowded park. If you were at Disneyland on February 29, 2012, you should understand what I mean.

  • Son Gohan

    One idea I had(and would probably do if I was the person making it) would be a remake of the original movie. It would be sort of a “what if?” type thing, like what a remake would have been like had the original movie not been anywhere near as popular as it was. . .