Hollywood's empire strikes back: Disney buys Lucasfilm, maker of Stars Wars, for $4bn

Fans can look forward to Episode 7 in the sci-fi franchise with George Lucas as consultant

Los Angeles

After 35 years, six movies and several hundred million plastic action figures, the Force appears to still be strong with Star Wars.

Its creator, George Lucas, has sold his business empire to Disney in a deal worth just over $4bn.

The purchase of Lucasfilm means fans can look forward to "Episode 7" in the science fiction franchise some time in 2015.

Numbers eight and nine will also be pushed into development, with a view to hitting cinemas at two to three-year intervals.

Lucas, 68, said it was time for him to retire from the day-to-day running of his business, although he will serve as "creative consultant" on the next movie. As sole owner of Lucasfilm, he will receive $4.05bn (£2.53bn) in cash and shares.

"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," Lucas said in a statement.

"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."

As part of the deal, one of Lucas's longstanding associates, Kathleen Kennedy, will remain President of Lucasfilm. She will also be Executive Producer of the new movie, with responsibility for the all-important business of hiring a screenwriters and director.

It remains unclear where the next instalment in the blockbuster series will pick up.

Technically, it should follow 1983's Return of the Jedi, which was the third of the movies to be released but is sixth in Lucas's chronological series. However the death of Darth Vader at will leave the franchise without its major villain.

Either way, Disney is counting on the enduring loyalty of fans to recoup its vast investment. They continue to purchase merchandise in huge quantities and have ignored lacklustre reviews to turn all three of the modern Star Wars "prequels" into hits. The company's Chief Executive, Bob Iger, said in a statement: "The last Star Wars movie release was 2005's Revenge of the Sith, and we believe there's substantial pent-up demand. 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."

Mr Iger now presides over a corporation which controls such creative goldmines as Marvel and Pixar, as well as Disney's animation and live-action arms. The firm also has substantial interests in theme parks, toy-making and merchandise, along with sports broadcaster ESPN and TV network ABC.

The sale encompasses Lucasfilm's production business, along with its special effects and audio arms, and consumer products unit. It therefore offers scope for serious business synergies: Pixar has long made use of production facilities at the company's Skywalker ranch outside San Francisco, for example.

And Disney may choose to merge Lucasfilm's consumer products unit with its own merchandise operation.

The Lucas touch

Hits

American Graffiti (1973) A high-school coming of age film was hugely influential and heavily profitable, taking more than $20m on a budget of less than $1m

Star Wars (1977) The landmark sci-fi film led to a movie franchise that has so far notched up revenues of $4bn

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Pairing with director Stephen Spielberg, Lucas brought about a near $2bn-earning series centred around the action-adventure archaeologist

Misses

Labyrinth (1986) It has achieved cult status, thanks not least to the casting of David Bowie, but the fantasy film only recovered half its budget in ticket sales

Howard the Duck (1986) Widely regarded by critics as one of the worst films ever made, its box office takings only just scraped above its $35m budget

Red Tails (2012) The most recent movie from the Lucas stable, about Mustang pilots in the Second World War, made back just $58m of its $60bn budget

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions