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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.

17 comments
Ndiaz.fuentes
Ndiaz.fuentes

The only disappointment so far is that the sequel trilogy won't use content from the expanded universe, as that would've been awesome. A strange decision, if you ask me, but I'm trusting Disney on this one. As a previous comment states, they can't do any worse than the prequels. For those worried that Disney will make childish movies, I'd remind you that they also own Marvel (see Avengers). They also released Alice in Wonderland in 2010 (there's a scene in that movie where there's a river of blood and floating heads). Finally, Disney has a very good track record regarding their films and most of them (even the ones aimed at kids) are quite good (see the Toy Story trilogy, The Lion King, Atlantis, Tron, etc).

CEByron
CEByron

So, LucasFilm has some major missteps in their past. The most recent 3 movies were fair at best, and (the Phantom Menace particularly) plain bad at worst. Speaking as a mild SW fan since I was a little kid, I don't see how Disney can screw up the franchise any more than LucasFilm has already. However, the shrinking number of production companies worries me.

michael
michael

-Goofy takes on Jar Jar Binks! -Ewoks cuddle up with Minnie Mouse! -Donald Duck meets C3PO - "Finally, somebody understands what I'm saying" -And the inevitable line "Use the Force, Mickey!"

sboverie
sboverie

My first reaction was that the new Star Wars movies would be like a typical Disney film aimed at very young children and almost intolerable for adults. Further reading showed that Disney gave Pixar a lot of independance and would probably do the same for Lucas Arts.

dfields
dfields

the C&D letters to all the SW fanfic sites now that the Mouse is in the house.

Arcturus909
Arcturus909

It certainly can't be any worse than those prequels with Disney at the helm. It could breathe new life into what is now dead to me. If not, then I'm no worse off than I was before.

labattomy
labattomy

...As long as Disneyland and Disney World do not make a ride called "It's a Small Universe After All !"

durocshark
durocshark

Could Jar Jar be a new addition to Disney's Playhouse? It will be nice to see what can happen with the SW universe when George isn't playing God.

jhorton
jhorton

I am pretty much okay with it. Disney, for all of its faults and foibles as a company, has a pretty decent track record (hey, Jobs owned a good chunk). I am especially interested in seeing what plans Disney has for ILM and Skywalker Sound, two exceptionally innovative subsidiaries that Lucas did manage to ruin. Time will tell...

CEByron
CEByron

The expanded universe is too big to use in a movie format. For those of us that have not read all 1000 (exaggeration, but barely) books, it would be hard to follow all the extra details that have been filled in.

Robiisan
Robiisan

DIS just dropped $4+ Billion to get the rights to the two franchises. Probably a package deal from Lucas, while Disney wanted the tech expertise of ILM & SS. Now they need to put those two to use and generate some ROI before they can afford to start picking up some (potentially greed-inflated) pricey properties from the expanded universe. Additionally, Lucas might have been feeling a bit testy about the possibility of them using "unauthorized" material from other writers and had a clause written in prohibiting it, at least for a while.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

... in 2010 (there's a scene in that movie where there's a river of blood and floating heads)." You say that as if you think it's a good thing.

CEByron
CEByron

I'd rather LucasFilm stayed independent, as that would have left them to develop in different directions. I always felt like they should have produced original movies outside of IJ or SW, some new project to allow their technical achievements to shine as well as the storycrafting expertise of George himself as a consultant.

Ndiaz.fuentes
Ndiaz.fuentes

But some stories could have been used. Is the life of Kyle Katarn considered part of the expanded universe? Because there is a character with enough substance to get us through a brilliant new trilogy.

Ndiaz.fuentes
Ndiaz.fuentes

Lol. I don't mean that movies should be violent for the sake of violence. But Star Wars would be very boring if the jedi simply went around talking to the sith and hugging them. Someone in the previous comments had expressed worry that this would happen with Disney at the head. Hence, the (rather graphic) evidence that Disney can be mature.