Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Thoughts on the Disney/Lucasfilm Deal

Although, at face value, it's not related to feature animation, I wanted to comment on this evening's earth-shattering announcement that The Walt Disney Company is acquiring Lucasfilm from George Lucas for $4.05 billion in cash and stock.

Since the deal includes not only the Star Wars franchise, but also Lucasfilm's Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound divisions, Pixar and Disney Animation (to say nothing of Marvel) won't have to venture far for post-production services.

As it is right now, Pixar has stayed close to its former parent, using Skywalker sound designers on all its films. When I visited Skywalker back in 2010, I got the impression that the people working on Toy Story 3's sound were Pixar employees in all but name only.

With Lucasfilm now under the same Mouse-shaped umbrella, those relationships will be completely unconstrained. There's also the distinct possibility that Disney may see ILM as a potential future source of animated features. Remember Rango?

Yeah, Bob Iger looks a bit stiff in a suit, but he's proving to be a daring, long-term-thinking CEO. First acquiring Pixar (2006, $7.4 billion), then Marvel (2009, $4.24 billion), now Lucasfilm. I can't wait to find out what's coming in three years time.


Anonymous said...

Will Disney get the rights to Star Wars 1-6? (I know Disney now owns the franchise, but does Disney now own Distribution rights to the first ones, or does Fox still own them?)

Nini said...

Much like the Marvel buyout, this one had me like "wow" for a while before saying it's totally the right move even when every other nerd was bitching about how Disney would tarnish Marvel's traditions. Hasn't happened yet and some could say Lucasfilm was already severely tarnished after years of hokey prequels and remasters but I can see this working out, Disney does at least know how to keep the mashed potatoes from mingling with the peas and make sure both get to swim in the gravy yknow.

Tortured analogies for Disney's various marketing machines working magic across varied segments of their empire aside, I feel Iger knows what he's upto and knows what to do in order to keep Disney alive in a way that I don't think Eisner ever knew. Buying Lucasfilm means having one of the biggest franchises around, a great sound production company and a wonderful effects and animation house to boot, how can something like that fail?

I wish Lucasfilm good luck without their namesake at the helm and under the mouse's management, I expect they won't need it.

Oscar Baechler said...

After the visionless management of the last 20 years, The Star Wars franchise is a punchline rather than a license to print money. I think Disney's stewardship of the Marvel brand is something to applaud; consistency of slate, a cohesive cradle-to-grave production setup from comics to movies to TV shows to toys that sells to kids without leaving adults feeling betrayed about their childhood loves. Disney knows how to sell to mature adults, teenagers, kids, and infants all at the same time.

Alexandro Fantino said...

WOW. I did NOT see that coming. I guess I should've, though, because of Star Tours.

Anyway, I'm curious about that new Star Wars film set for 2015, will it be directed by George Lucas? Does it happen after Episode 6? Who will be cast? So much uncertainty! And ILM's involvement in Rango also makes me curious. I can't wait to see how this all turns out.

I just hope that once someone else takes over as the new CEO at Disney, he/she won't screw up by exploiting the crap out of the Star Wars franchise. Though I have the feeling we won't have to wait until a new CEO takes over to see that happen. They've already done it with Pixar

MSBonanno said...

I'm just jazzed to be getting more STAR WARS films written and directed by people OTHER than Lucas (who really should not have helmed the prequels). Hit or miss that's some kick arse news!!!

Anonymous said...

I think the real news, at least to me, is now there is one less potential animation studio out there. People seem to be forgetting that ILM made the fantastic Rango and had a promising future of making some fully animated films once in a while.

It's not like there's a huge amount of animation studios out there. About the only left to compete are Sony's and Dreamworks'. Disney owns Walt Disney Animation, Pixar, ILM, and even to an extent Studio Ghibli.

I'm definitely not happy with how monopolistic this is in terms of animation.

And on the flip side, more and more films require special effects (animated films are basically nothing but one giant special effect) and there's the possibility that Disney may fence off these services in addition to other Lucasfilm services such as Skywalker Sound.

Love or hate George Lucas for some of his choices, he loved film making and ILM and Skywalker Sound were designed to be a cheaper more open alternatives that any film maker was open to use.

Anonymous said...

Curious as to why George chose to sell now? and for so little, relative to the Pixar buy-out in 2006. Is George ill with something? Looking to sell before it's too late?

Anonymous said...

I think you meant ... 'won't have to venture FAR, FAR AWAY for post-production services.'

Mike Bastoli said...

Anonymous #1: Here's your answer: