Walt Disney buys Lucas film for $4bn and will release new Star Wars films, Walt Disney has agreed to pay veteran film maker George Lucas $4.05bn (£2.5bn) to acquire the company behind the Star Wars franchise and make a seventh film in the series.
Lucasfilm, which is 100pc owned by the director, will join Disney’s portfolio of brands from ESPN to Pixar and Marvel.
Disney , which will fund the deal with cash and shares, said another Star Wars film would be released in 2015.
Walt Disney buys Lucas film for $4bn and will release new Star Wars films
Disney is paying $4.05bn to buy Lucasfilm Ltd, the production company behind “Star Wars,” from its chairman and founder, George Lucas.
“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” Robert Iger, Disney’s chairman and chief executive said. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars , one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity.”
About half the price will be paid in stock and Disney plans to issue about 40m shares to cover the deal.
Mr Lucas said he was passing on Star Wars to a new generation of filmmakers. “For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” he said. “I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.”
Mr Lucas said that the deal meant the franchise could flourish. “Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products,” he added.
Kathleen Kennedy, current co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become president of the operation after the takeover, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn.
The Star Wars films and their re-releases have generated $4.54bn in worldwide ticket sales, according to Bloomberg data. The Indiana Jones franchise, which is also owned by Lucasfilm, has generated $1.95bn.
Mr Iger said that discussions began a year and a half ago and Mr Lucas now intended to retire.
The purchase also brings Industrial Light & Magic into the Disney fold, the pioneering special effects group that has been at the cutting edge of film making since its work on Star Wars in the 1970s.
Mr Iger said Disney intended to keep the operation, as well as LucasArts, which produces computer games such as Lego Star Wars , Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Star Wars Battlefront .
LucasArts recently said it would collaborate on an Angry Birds: Star Wars game with Rovio Entertainment.
Shares in The Walt Disney Company closed on Friday at $50.08, valuing the entertainment group at $89.9bn.