Published on: October 31, 2012by Kevin Coupe
Did you feel the disturbance in the Force yesterday?
That would have been the Walt Disney Co. announcing that it is acquiring Lucasfilm from its founder, George Lucas, for more than $4 billion in cash and stock. And simultaneously announcing that under Disney's control, Lucasfilm would produce a new "Star Wars" film to be released in 2015, and henceforth add to the saga every two or three years.
The bad news about this is that the last three "Star Wars" films to be released were, while commercial successes, not up to the quality of the first three. (It needs to be pointed out to those unfamiliar with the canon that the first three films produced were actually the last three in chronological order, and that the last three released were actually the first three. Of course, Lucas has said at various times that he originally had a nine-film continuum in mind, which would have made the last three chronologically actually the middle three. But now, since Disney has not set a limit on how many "Star Wars" films there could be, that whole vision, for all practical purposes, has been tossed. Got it?)
The good news would be that Lucas will only be a consultant on any new "Star Wars" films, and won't be doing any actual writing and/or directing. (He may be visionary, but his story sense has, shall we say, declined over the decades. The evidence of this would be, in addition to the last three "Star Wars" films, a little debacle called Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I rest my case.)
What does this have to do with retailing?
Well, expect Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and the rest of the "Star Wars" characters to make a resurgence that will be felt in retail stores and product development around the world. (And maybe even in a galaxy far, far away.) According to press reports, Lucasfilm makes about $215 million a year just in licensing fees, but Disney feels that with a little aggressive marketing, this number could be grown. Substantially. Plus, with new product in the pipeline - the last "Star Wars" film came out in 2005 - licensing would almost have to increase.
Plus, Disney is getting all of Lucasfilm's post-productions businesses, such as Industrial Light & Magic, which offer ample opportunity for expansion.
In other words, $4 billion may sound like a lot of money. But it, in fact, could be a steal if Disney handles the transition correctly.
It'll be an Eye-Opener.
- KC's View: