Disney to Buy Lucasfilm in Deal Worth Over $4 Billion
Walt Disney has agreed to buy filmmaker George Lucas's Lucasfilm Ltd and the "Star Wars" franchise for $4.05 billion in cash and stock, a blockbuster deal that adds one of the most beloved franchises in entertainment history to Disney's lineup.
Disney said there would be a new series of "Star Wars" feature films as part of the deal, with the first movie expected in 2015. Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger, in prepared remarks for analysts, said the plan was to release a new movie in the series every two to three years thereafter.
Lucas, a Hollywood icon known for exercising control over the most minute details of the fictional universe he created, will remain as a creative consultant.
"It's now time for me to pass 'Star Wars' on to a new generation of filmmakers," he said in a statement. Besides "Star Wars," the deal also includes rights to the "Indiana Jones" franchise, though Disney did not elaborate on any plans for that series.
Disney will pay about half the purchase price in cash and issue about 40 million shares at closing. Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo, in prepared remarks, said the deal would lower Disney's earnings per share by a low single-digits percentage in fiscal 2013 and 2014.
The deal is a rough equivalent to what the conglomerate paid for Marvel Entertainment back in 2009.
"Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas," said Robert Iger, Chairman and CEO of Disney, 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."