Walt Disney Co. said late Tuesday that it has agreed to buy filmmaker George Lucas' Lucasfilm Ltd. for about $4.05 billion.
The Burbank entertainment giant said that it will pay Lucas, who owns 100 percent of the San Francisco-based company known for the "Star Wars" movies, about half in cash and issue about 40 million Disney shares. The deal, which is subject to U.S. anti-trust review, includes consumer products, animation and post-production businesses such as LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound.
"It's now time for me to pass 'Star Wars' on to a new generation of filmmakers,” Lucas said in a statement. “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.”
The Lucasfilm founder and co-chairman will remain affiliated with his studio as a “creative consultant” on new "Star Wars" films. Disney announced that a new film in the series, "Star Wars Episode 7," is scheduled for release in 2015, with more expected in the future.
Disney, which in recent years has acquired or taken major stakes in brands such as Pixar and Marvel, said that Lucasfilm Co-Chairman Kathleen Kennedy will become president of Lucasfilm and report to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn.
“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger said in a statement. “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 across multiple platforms, businesses and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”
Disney and Lucasfilm have an existing relationship, with “Star Wars” content licensed for use at several Disney theme parks. Disney said that the “present intent” is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations.