Emperor Lucas yeilds to Disney, becomes $4 Billion richer By Joseph Provenzand

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Those words are the opening lines to a movie that would define a generation as well as serve as the launch point for five more movies, a few cartoons, several video games, and a new religion (Jedi is recognized in England as a religion).

There are few movie franchises which can lay claim to such fan loyalty that their investments would make a billionaire out of its creator.

George Lucas, who wrote and directed the 1977 movie, would go on to either direct or at least oversee the various intellectual properties tied to the movie franchise.  Love him or hate for what he’s done to the storyline (Han shot first!), you have to admit he’s made some amazing business decisions related to the movies.  He obtained the merchandising rights to the movies at the very beginning which has contributed dramatically to his wealth considering all the toys, games, clothing, and novels based on the universe he created.

Lucas’ business savvy for good or bad culminated this last week with the sale of all the rights to the franchise.  It has now been turned over to Disney for a whopping $4 billion dollars the bulk of which Lucas is turning over to Edutopia, his educational charity.  Disney will pay $2 billion in cash with the remaining being paid out in Disney stock.

What does this mean to us?  The announcement of new movies is the biggest so far.  You see, a long time ago, in our galaxy, Mr. Lucas promised not three movies, not even six, but a nine-movie story arc.  After the first trilogy ended and things seemed to quiet down while rumors spread about the next trilogy, many people began to give up that we’d even see six movies.

Then the prequels came out.  There was hope for all nine after all.  Then George announced he wasn’t going to do the final three.  That was followed by his announcement that maybe if he found the right director, he’d finish the story arc.

You can see a fan’s frustration, especially since there was a sixteen-year gap between the first two trilogies.  Lucas is getting old and there were a lot of fears that if he started the third trilogy he may not live to see it through.  That is why the sale to Disney is so big.  Disney as an entity can continue to make the Star Wars movies and it will no longer rest on the decisions of one person.

Just like the mystical “Force” presented in the Star Wars universe, there’s a dark side to this sales acquisition.  Disney recently acquired Marvel and Marvel Studios granting them access to a large portion of superhero fandom.  Combine that with Star Wars along with the Disney princess movies and they now have a continuous revenue stream to feed upon; in short they now can present movies starting from beginning childhood all the way into adulthood.

That’s something the megacorporation has never been able to do, mainly because teenage boys tend to shy away from sappy romantic cartoon movies.  Why is that the dark side?  One of the upsides to how Star Wars was marketed was that it had to wait for George Lucas to make his move.  The long waits between movies allowed the imagination of the fans to run and grow which increased the desire to see the next movie.

Star Wars will no longer be that galaxy far, far away.  Disney is already talking about the possibility of seven new movies to be released every two to three years.  Whether this will be a good thing or not only time will tell.  So may the Force be with you, always.


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