Listen to the latest episode of Deadline Big Media with David Lieberman podcast here. This week, Deadline Executive Editor Lieberman and host David Bloom discuss the impacts of Hurricane Sandy on New York’s entertainment companies; whether big media stocks will take advantage of low expectations for Q3 earnings to “kitchen sink” lots of expenses into their reports; Disney’s stunning purchase of LucasFilm and what Disney will have to do to make its money back; and the latest Netflix stumble, followed by Carl Icahn’s announcement that he has rights to a significant stake in the online streaming company.
Reactions to the transaction, which includes at least three new Star Wars films, are so lopsidedly enthusiastic that I’m hoping to see at least one analyst offer a contrarian view. Someone could start by addressing a question that was posed yesterday to Disney CEO Bob Iger, but that he mostly sidestepped: To paraphrase, he was asked whether there’s a risk that Hollywood may run into trouble by feeding audiences too many superhero/sci-fi/fantasy films. Susquehanna Financial Group’s Vasily Karasyov made a case last year that as theaters become inundated with these computer-animated extravaganzas — especially featuring comic book superheroes — “risk of underperformance increases and upside surprises become progressively less likely.” His view of Disney’s new deal is that we’ll have to wait to see how the next Star Wars film performs in 2015 to determine whether Iger made a smart move. “Until then, bulls will point to the success of The Avengers and bears will say that no franchise lasts forever,” he says. (Those interested in the subject of a superhero glut should also check out critic David Denby’s powerful cultural critique, “Has Hollywood Murdered The Movies?”, that ran last month in The New Republic.)
Disney plans to bring not just one but three new Star Wars films to the big screen, and the companies “have a pretty extensive treatment of the next three movies,” chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a conference call announcing its deal to acquire Lucasfilm. “Episode 7 will be released in 2015, the first under the Disney/Lucas banner,” he said, with Episode 8 and Episode 9 to follow. Disney plans to release a new Star Wars movie “every two to three years.” Disney also intends to pursue the Star Wars brand in their parks, with games and, “other initiatives,” CFO Jay Rasulo said. “Being that there hasn’t been a Star Wars film since 2005, a lot of the value we attribute to the deal is to come, added Rasulo. ”This gives us a great footprint in the consumer market, and we already had a good one,” said Iger of the licensing possibilities that the Star Wars franchise could represent for Disney.
UPDATE: BREAKING: ‘Star Wars’ Returns – ‘Episode 7′ Slated For 2015 And More Movies Planned As Disney Buys Lucasfilm
BREAKING…. Disney has just confirmed that it has agreed to acquire George Lucas‘ Lucasfilm Ltd, and that includes rights to the Star Wars franchise that will now continue on. The companies have targeted a 2015 release for Star Wars: Episode 7, with Episode 8 and Episode 9 to follow as the the long-term plan is to release a new feature every two or three years. “The last Star Wars movie release was 2005’s Revenge Of The Sith – and we believe there’s substantial pent-up demand”, Disney said. The deal also includes rights to the Indiana Jones franchise.
The stock and cash transaction is worth an estimated $4.05 billion, and the companies have scheduled a conference call in a half-hour to discuss the deal, which was approved by the Disney board and Lucas, the sole Lucasfilm shareholder. (UPDATE: Disney’s Iger: Three New ‘Star Wars’ Movies Mapped Out; TV Plans Too)
As for the new Star Wars installments, the companies said Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy would be executive producer on Episode 7 and any additional Star Wars movies, and Lucas would serve as creative consultant. There was no indication about where the story would pick up, though technically in the franchise’s chronology it would follow Star Wars: Episode 6 — Return Of The Jedi, the third film in the initial trilogy that came out in 1983.
As part of the deal, Kennedy will become president of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn. Kennedy, who was made Lucasfilm co-chairman June 1 as heir apparent to Lucas, will also serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, whose feature films have earned a total of $4.4 billion in global box to date. That doesn’t take into account the franchise’s massive merchandising clout that Disney CFO Jay Rasulo said will generate in 2012 close to the $215 million in consumer product revenue Marvel had when Disney bought that comics business in 2009.
Disney has built its business under chairman and CEO Bob Iger around such major acquisitions as Marvel, Pixar, ABC and ESPN.
George Lucas wants to make “experimental” movies, not blockbusters anymore. The Star Wars and Indiana Jones creator told UK publication Empire Magazine that “I’m moving away from all my businesses, I’m finishing all my obligations and I’m going to retire to my garage with my saw and hammer and build hobby movies,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to make movies that were more experimental in nature, and not have to worry about them showing in movie theatres.”
Fox’s Red Tails, the Lucasfilm World War II action film inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen — the first African-American aerial combat unit — will be released Jan. 20, 2012, the companies announced today. The cast includes Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr, Bryan Cranston and David Oyelowo. Anthony Hemingway is directing; Rick …
Fox said earlier this month that the 3D Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is due to be released Feb. 10, 2012. Today’s release:
LOS ANGELES (March 29, 2011) — Lucasfilm, one of the world’s leading film and entertainment companies, and Prime Focus, the global visual entertainment services
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (March 3, 2011) – Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox announced today that the 3D theatrical launch of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace now has an official release date – February 10, 2012! Set against the thrilling and exotic backdrop of a “galaxy far,
Lucasfilm settled civil charges that were brought against the company and rival Pixar Animation by the U.S. Justice Department for stifling competition for digital animation workers. Pixar had already settled its end of the situation in September, one of six companies in the technology sector to do so. Lucasfilm and …