Kathleen Kennedy, current co-chair of Lucasfilm, will become Lucasfilm's president, reporting to Walt Disney Studios chair Alan Horn as part of stock and cash transaction.
The Walt Disney Company has acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in cash and stock and announced a new Star Wars movie to be released in 2015. Kathleen Kennedy, current co-chair of Lucasfilm, will become Lucasfilm's president, reporting to Walt Disney Studios chair Alan Horn as part of the stock and cash transaction. Disney is paying approximately half the price in cash and will issue 40 million shares of stock on Tuesday, the company said in a statement.Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Warsfeature films, with the franchise's creator and Lucasfilm founder George Lucas serving as creative consultant.
"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," said Lucas, chairman and CEO of Lucasfilm, in a statement. "It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. 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. I'm confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. 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."
The deal comes on the heels of Disney's 2009 acquisition of Marvel Entertainment and its 2006 purchase of Pixar Animation Studios, two potent entertainment brands that appeal to families. The Disney board already has approved the Lucasfilm acquisition but it is subject to antitrust scrutiny by the U.S. government.
While Lucas and Disney have had a long relationship, it has been most visible at the company's theme parks, where Star Tours and other attractions have been popular for more than two decades.
However, the Stars Wars movies have been distributed through Twentieth Century Fox, which will now be cut out of future Star Wars and other related business. (Though Fox already has been set to release 3-D versions of the past Star Wars movies, it is unclear if that relationship will be impacted by the sale. The acquisition also raises questions about the future of Stars Wars: Clone Wars, a highly popular series on the Cartoon Network, which is owned by Disney's competitor, Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner.)
Disney also is acquiring Lucasfilm's hugely profitable consumer products and merchandising businesses, which should be a good fit for the buyer.
"Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas," said Bob Iger, Disney chairman and CEO, in a statement. "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 across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value."
Also announced is a new trilogy of Star Wars movies (the first of which premieres in 2015).