The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) can now add "The Force" to its long list of assets, now that the entertainment company agreed to spend $4.05 billion on Lucasfilm Ltd. and the “Star Wars” franchise.
With the acquisition of Lucasfilm, the owner of all “Star Wars” intellectual property — which includes thousands of characters, games, toys, and a six-film series — Disney is echoing the $4 billion purchase of Marvel Entertainment, which it completed in 2009.
While the Marvel deal added comic book characters Spider-Man and The Avengers to Disney’s array of businesses, buying Star Wars allows the company to use characters such as Darth Vader and Yoda in a similar respect.
George Lucas, the founder and owner of Lucasfilm, sold Disney its film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects and audio post-production businesses. About half of the purchase price is in cash. Disney will pay the other half through issuing about 40 million shares.
The target, based in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound. Kathleen Kennedy, the current co-chairman of the company, will become the president. Lucas will serve as a creative consultant.
Burbank, Calif.-based Disney has already stated that it plans to release “Star Wars Episode VII” in 2015, likening its potential success to the 2012 Marvel film “The Avengers,” which has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.
Disney’s media enterprise includes media networks, theme parks and resorts, studio entertainment, interactive media and consumer products businesses. The company had more than $40 billion in revenue for fiscal year 2011.
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP is handling legal matters for Disney.
The deal requires regulatory approval.