After Hours

George Lucas sells Lucasfilm to Disney for $4.05 billion

Wally Bahny contemplates what Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm might mean for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises and ILM and Skywalker Sound.

By now, most of you have probably heard: George Lucas has sold the rights to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and Skywalker Sound to Disney. And, of course, rumors and speculation on what will happen with those properties seemed to spring up faster than the news itself did. Nevertheless, there are plenty of facts out there on what is going to happen, and we can look at the rumors and speculation to figure out what is most likely to happen.

This CNET News gallery shows some of the best from Disney and Lucasfilm as part of the news of this buyout.

What does this mean for Star Wars?

Several years ago, George Lucas swore that he would not make another Star Wars movie after the prequel trilogy was complete, and he has stuck to his word. However, Disney has already stated that it will now be making the sequel trilogy, starting with Episode VII as early as 2015.

Immediately, rumors and speculation came up about what the storylines would be for the new trilogy — will it be Luke, Leia, and Han, or will it be a new lead cast with those three characters appearing in the background or not in the movie at all? Will it take place immediately after the end of The Return of the Jedi (thereby ruling out Luke, Leia, and Han unless those roles are recast with younger actors) or 25-30 years later producing a similar gap as between the first two trilogies and allowing for Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford to reprise their roles either as leads or cameos? Disney won't say. Disney has revealed that the storylines will be all-new content; there will be nothing from the existing Expanded Universe books or comics.

This also means George Lucas has no ability to ruin these new movies or further ruin the original trilogy. He is guaranteed to be a "creative consultant" on at least Episode VII (and, as Star Trek fans will remember, Gene Roddenberry was given a similar role on the Original Series movies after the debacle of Star Trek: The Motion Picture), but he will have no authority on the making of that film. Instead, the current co-chairman of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, will be executive producer on the new movies from her new role as the president of this new Disney division. No writers or directors have signed on at this time.

How is Indiana Jones going to fare?

Probably slightly worse. Paramount will still hold distribution rights to the Indiana Jones intellectual property, so I doubt Disney will make a movie that they can't distribute themselves. However, an Indiana Jones movie that fits the spirit of the original trilogy (not like that hack job Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) could surely be awesome, especially if Harrison Ford is willing to take up the whip.

What about ILM and Skywalker Sound?

ILM has been winning technical awards for over 35 years. Skywalker Sound produces some amazing work and has won numerous technical awards as well. Teaming those two effects powerhouses up with the company that owns Pixar can only be good for the advancement of moviemaking technology.

What do you think?

I'm pretty excited about this whole deal. Since the beginning of (moviemaking) time, Walt Disney and his legacy have consistently produced high-quality entertainment, and George Lucas's technical production companies have done the same. But, what do you think about this deal?  Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Note: CNET, CBS News, and TechRepublic are CBS brands.

Editor's Picks