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How Disney Bought Lucasfilm

Good long-read in Businessweek about how Disney bought the Star Wars franchise and Lucasfilm. The article is short on major revelations, but contains some cute stories, like an overview of the meeting in which Disney CEO Robert Iger first asked George Lucas if he’d be interested in selling Lucasfilm:

In May 2011, Iger flew to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida for the opening of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, an upgraded Star Wars ride offering patrons the illusion of traveling through space to visit planets like Tatooine. Lucas was deeply involved in the attraction, personally reviewing its progress every two weeks for several years.

On the morning of the Star Tours opening, Iger met Lucas for breakfast at the Hollywood Brown Derby, one of Disney World’s restaurants. It was closed for the occasion so the two men could speak freely. Fresh from his daily workout, Iger ordered a yogurt parfait. Lucas treated himself to one of the Brown Derby’s larger omelets. The two exchanged pleasantries. Then Iger inquired whether Lucas would ever consider selling his company. Lucas replied that he’d recently celebrated his 67th birthday and was starting to think seriously about retiring. So perhaps the sale of his company was inevitable. “I’m not ready to pursue that now,” he told Iger. “But when I am, I’d love to talk.”

  • Pedro Nakama

    And he sold the company at the end of 2012 so he could miss all of the new tax laws in 2013.

  • Floyd Norman

    Hmmm, are we doing the Ascent of Man, here? Rat, Woman, CEO and finally a droid?

    • The woman is Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.

  • Toonio

    All the expectations for episode VII reminds me of episode I.

    People forgets that if SW flops (according to Disney’s standards for profitable) they will drop/delay/forget/downplay the franchise as they have done with the Muppets.

    At the end they have a huge cash cow in franchising right to profit from, and which only god knows when they kick in as I don’t think George Lucas will be duped that easily (again),

    So why worrying with high risk ventures?

    Also remember it’s Disney and they have proven themselves on destroying the magic around everything they touch.

    • Ivan

      The Muppets are filming a sequel right now for Disney.

      • Shazbot

        Yeah, but the first film barely turned a profit, it flopped overseas, merchandising has gone nowhere, and if this second film tanks, it’ll be frog legs and roast pork at the Disney commissary.

        • JB

          The last Muppet movie made a combined $158,431,237, well over three times the film’s $45 mil. budget. I wouldn’t consider that a flop by any means.

        • Max C.

          The Muppets did win an Oscar and high critical acclaim. That’s most likely why they made a sequel anyway.

    • DarylT

      Since when. They add the magic to everything they touch.

    • Disney is going to destroy the magic of Star Wars? DISNEY!? Didn’t George Lucas do that well enough on his own? It wouldn’t surprise me if one of the things that made Star Wars an appealling purchase is its ability to endure the fact that it’s complete dreck but still turns a profit. I’m not sure what you COULD do to kill it off at this point. Lord knows that one bad movie won’t do it.

      • John

        Don’t forget Lucas destroyed Indiana Jones with the horrible fourth movie as well

  • As a major Star Wars geek it’s exciting to me to have a film that’s not 100% in the creative control of George. It’s clear from watching many DVD documentaries, bonus features, and listening to the commentaries, that the producers and folks that worked on the film often begged George to include or alter one scene, only to be rejected. (Like the Yoda scene at the end of Ep. III) We all know that Episodes I, II and III were all George. It’ll be interesting to see how well these new Star Wars films come out now that they are once again a collaboration of efforts, instead of being restricted to only George’s way or the highway. I’m cautiously optimistic. But I must say, the thrill of seeing a new Star Wars film in theaters is very exciting!

    • John

      And wouldn’t it be awesome if Disney does the right thing by releasing the original unmolested un-vandalized original theatrical cuts on blu-ray restored and remastered?