It sounds like a nonsense rumor, a hoax, or wishful thinking, but this is actually happening. CNBC first dropped the news in a Tweet, and incredulity followed, but The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Disney is paying $4.05 billion in cash and stock for Lucasfilm. Coincidentally, that's just about the same amount that the studio paid to acquire Marvel a few years back.
Lucasfilm co-chair and regular Steven Spielberg collaborator Kathleen Kennedy, will become president of Lucasfilm as part of the deal, and she'll be working for relatively new Disney chair Alan Horn.
And yes, there's a new Star Wars movie now set to debut in three years, hitting a decade after Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith closed out the prequel trilogy. George Lucas long said that the much-loved original trilogy was, in fact, the middle section of a three-trilogy epic, but after the prequels, it looked like Lucas was washing his hands of the live-action movies and instead allowing cartoons and the like to drive his merchandising empire. Suddenly, however, we're getting another Star Wars movie and more taking place after Return of the Jedi.
Episode VII will apparently kick off a new trilogy of Star Wars movies arriving every two to three years.
Much to the delight of the fans disappointed by the prequels, George Lucas will serve as a creative consultant on the new films, but apparently will not return to direct. Officially announcing the Luscafilm purchase, Lucas himself stated,
For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. 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.
20th Century Fox distributed all the previous movies in the franchise, but this means that Fox will no longer be involved in intergalactic civil war. Now it's all Disney.
Disney will also now be able to do a little something with the Indiana Jones property, though plans for a new feature are not yet afoot.
While new movies following the Skywalker clan were no doubt part of Disney's decision to drop several billion dollars on Lucasfilm, which will remain operational in the San Francisco Bay Area, the merchandising was almost surely more important. In 2010, a year without a new Star Wars movie, toys from a galaxy far, far away represented $510 million in sales. That figure doesn't count video games, apparel, or other related merchandise, just toys. So yeah, it's probably a smart investment.
Here, for your edification, is an official announcement video:
Stay tuned for more on the purchase on the seventh Star Wars movie.